Friday, 31 August 2012

Aesop's Fables: the Tortoise, the Hare and the Deer in the Headlights

As part of a monthly check, we started the winch up the other evening.  This piece of equipment - essentially a petrol engine connected to two rotating drums, or capstans - is used to haul the cliff technician and casualty back up the cliff (we do also have other human powered options including the 'tugger', but more of that another time).

The throttle control on the winch shows a tortoise for slow and a hare for fast.  Clever stuff.  But when you think about it, didn't the tortoise actually beat the hare in Aesop's fable?  So we're rewriting the winch instructions as:

Tortoise: use this setting for a slow methodical recovery of cliff technician.

Hare: use this setting when you wish to recover technician quickly to a point midway up the cliff, then stop for a while while he takes a nap.  By the time he wakes up, the tortoise performing the adjacent rescue will have overtaken and already reched the top.  The casualty will have been reunited with his family whilst the cliff top team will have packed away and restowed the gear and will already be back at the station for a cup of tea and debrief.

I might also find better diagrams of a hare and a tortoise.  I cant help thinking this image looks more like a deer caught in the car headlights.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Eric gets the torch.........along with the charger

The task was simple........

Get kitted up with your Personal protective equipment (PPE), load the vehicle with torches and lets get going.

This was on Monday night when the team got tasked to search for two walkers lost between Dancing Ledge and Belle Vue Farm.

Things were going well until Eric went to get the last torch from its charger - a strange noise and a large amount of laughter as Eric stood there with the torch and CHARGER in his hand.

Well done Eric, why not bring the whole thing with you, I'm sure you will find a socket in a field to plug the torch into.

Credit to Eric, he came in very quietly on Tuesday's kit night with new wall plugs and reattached the  charger to the wall.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Sector Car

Our sector manager Allan got a new car last week and look who got to play with the blue lights!

The sector car allows the sector manager to respond quickly to incidents to support the four volunteer teams in his 'East Dorset' patch - Southbourne, Poole, St Albans and us. 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Dog Rescue

Coastguard Eric arrived at the station tonight with these two friends in his bike box.
Closer inspection revealed them to be his favourite pair of fluffy slippers, although I don't know if that's better or worse.

Won't be long before we see them worn on a shout....!

Missing Walkers located safely by Swanage Coastguard

Portland Coastguard Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre received a 999 call shortly after 9pm  from two lost walkers. It was dark and due to the poor weather conditions they required assistance.

The male and female from the Nottingham area had been returning to their car parked at Worth Matravers after a day out in Swanage.

The search area was between Durlston and Dancing Ledge but with some questioning from Portland Coastguard the search area was narrowed down to between Dancing Ledge and Belle Vue farm.

Conditions on the ground were far from ideal, heavy rain and gusting winds made searching difficult, however just after an hour the pair were located by two Coastguard Rescue Officers.  The pair having got lost took shelter from the weather behind a stone wall.

Having been checked over the pair were dropped back to their car and the team were released back to the station to dry out.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Flare burn

A few weeks ago, Tom escorted the company responsible for the disposal of flares to St Albans Head to burn off some that had been damaged and were not suitable to transport to far.

1st of all have a large metal container.

Fill container with said flares
Stand back a big distance, put special device in metal container and expect a loud bang and lots of coloured smoke? Tom said it was more of a pop, fizz and a bit of black smoke.  20 minutes later - all gone!
Flares are dangerous, don't attempt this at home.  The local collection point is the RNLI college (by appointment), it is illegal to dump flares in a public area or a Coastguard station.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Coastguard role

This week's tragic incident in the Cattle Troughs area brought the maritime rescue resources together under the coordination of the Coastguard.

The call to Portland Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) actually came via a member of the St Albans Coastguard team who was working close by.

Portland MRCC is staffed by full time Coastguards and is actually on Custom House Quay in Weymouth. Knowing a climber had fallen, they immediately tasked the St Albans and Swanage Coastguard Rescue Teams, both Swanage Lifeboats and scrambled the Coastguard Helicopter at Portland.

Tasking all these units would have created quite a lot of work in a very short time scale, phones calls from Coastguard Rescue Officers responding to their pagers, Lifeboat Officials calling in and the helicopter crew to brief via ARCC Kinloss.

Then follows a period of time which to those in distress seems forever, as the assets make best speed to the incident.

The climber was recovered from the water by the ILB crew and transferred to the main lifeboat where the crew performed CPR, until the helicopter arrived and lifted the male to Dorchester hospital. During this there is a steady flow of radio calls keeping Portland MRCC updated so they can alert the hospital.

Mean while the volunteer Coastguard Rescue Officers (CRO's)arrived at the top of the cliff and started to manage the situation, this included moving members of the public away from the cliff edge while the helicopter was operating. The primary role for the CRO's would be to set up their rope equipment and get a technician down to assist however events had moved on fast. With the helicopter gone and the lifeboats standing by the CRO's then started to gather all those involved and piece together what had happened. The climbers partner needed to be looked after and assisted and the recovery of any equipment took place before returned to a meeting point with the Police.

With those involved looked after by the Police, other Police Officers required to be taken back to the scene starting the next stage of the incident. This stage saw the Coastguard's protect the Police whilst they gather evidence on the cliff top. Sadly by this time we were aware the climber had passed away and after 4 hours the Coastguard got back to station to repack the equipment and debrief the incident.
And our new blogger is..........................................

Roger Rabbit

Friday, 24 August 2012


We are often referred to by several different names and this reflects the changes to the Coastguard over the years.

HM Coastguard Swanage 

Swanage CRT - Swanage Coastguard Rescue Team 

Swanage BURT - Swanage Back Up Response Team

Swanage IRT -  Swanage Initial Response Team

Then some of the older ones which crop up.

Swanage CRC - Swanage Cliff Rescue Company or Coastguard Rescue Company

Swanage Cliff Rescue Team , a slight amendment on the. CRT used when there were different elements to the Coastguard team.

Whichever is used its a group of volunteers dedicated to maritime rescue

Fallen Climber

Just after 4pm (Thursday 23rd August) Portland Coastguard tasked the Swanage Coastguard Team to a climbing incident in the area of Cattle Troughs near to Dancing Ledge Swanage.

Swanage Lifeboat and the Rescue helicopter from Portland, (Rescue 106) were also tasked recovering a male from the water.

The injured climber was flown to Dorchester County Hospital where he was sadly pronounced deceased.   Our thoughts are with his family at this time.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

New Blogger

A new blogger will be introducing themselves this week , ......but who will it be?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Don't slip up

Friends and colleagues down in Kimmeridge have issued a warning about the slippery rocks and the message is just as important here in Swanage.

Rocks and paths which are often covered by water often have a layer of green, white or brown sea weed which when the tide goes out is like skating on ice.

We don't want to put you off exploring but make sure you have the correct footwear on and take careful steps.

During the Olympic sailing events in Weymouth, two people were airlifted by Coastguard helicopter after slipping on rocks

Keep dogs on leads

This weeks incident on the Downs has made the news.

One very lucky dog who decided to chase a seagull and fell 100ft, thankfully it made its way back up the cliff to the relief of the owner.

Our recommendation is always keep dogs on leads when near the cliff, even if they are normally very good.  That tempting rabbit or seagull is always a prize for these dogs, and coupled with the state that some of the cliffs are in, be safe and keep it on the lead.

Remember if you do lose your dog, never attempt a rescue yourself - dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Who are you going to call ?

When would call 999?

Which emergency service would you ask for?

Sometimes it's easy -

Fire - The Fire Service

Crime in progress - Police

Medical incident - Ambulance

So when do you call the Coastguard?  Well our advice is any incident on the coast, this includes beaches, cliffs, harbours and out to sea.  It also includes some inland waterways in certain parts of the country.

All emergency services work closely so if the wrong service gets the call the details gets transferred, however it helps if the caller calls the correct service first time round.

If you see someone you think is in trouble, or you are in trouble on the coast or out to sea dial 999 and ask for the COASTGUARD.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Busy weekend for Coastguard Teams

The good weather saw several Coastguard teams in action over the weekend.  St Albans (next door team) managed to get two serious cliff incidents in a row.
Yesterday's Patrol, Eric and Chris arrived at Knoll beach to be tasked to a young  lady who had  been on a banana ride and got hit in the face.

Allan Norman the East Dorset Sector Manager received this email today.

I would just like to express my thanks to two Coastguard Officers who helped with the 1st aid to my daughter who had been injured on a banana boat accident on Knoll beach.

They were calming and proffessional, they took control and made the situation easier to handle.

Nice letter - well done Eric and Chris.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Divers airlifted from dive boat in Swanage

Rescue 106 taking off yesterday from its base in Portland on route to airlift two divers off Swanage.

There's a Raccoon on Station!

"....there's so much stuff up there, we must have a *raccoon!". (Raccoon's are like badgers but with an American accent, they like to eat garbage and hoard stuff - they also smell bad).

' I didn't do nothing boss,  honest!'
It would appear that the boss, Ian, is having a clear out – no, not of team members – Austen is off on an overseas adventure on his own accord.  Ian wants a load of the ‘stuff’ at the Coastguard Station to be sorted out, he didn’t actually call it ‘stuff’, but you know what I mean! 

He found someone’s socks under the truck the other day and had a partially melt down which now means he’s on a purge. He’s given the clear out operation a snappy title it’s called:-


A ridiculous name I hope readers will agree – I will be asking for it to be renamed 


See how cleverly I have renamed the operation to change the emphasis to ensure the operation helps achieve our sustainability and legacy commitments to recycle stuff. Anyway he's going to bin anything that isn't required for Coastguard rescue operations.

*Any similarity between the description of a Raccoon and Austen is purely coincidental - to be fair Austen can't do the American accent.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Don't drink and drown

With the weekend set to have good weather we make no apologies to continue the campaign about drinking alcohol and using the sea.

The team continues to be called out to incidents where alcohol has been a factor in the incident.  On Tuesday two people turned up at the station to collect some of their property from the incident at Studland.  Before handing the items they were invited to sit down and have some strong words of advice from Gareth and Austen.

Enjoy the weekend but stay safe.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Our Austen

From time to time as the Station Officer you have announce some sad news which will come as a bit of a shock.

We are sorry to announce that our very own Austen Rockett is having a break from the world of Coastguard and in fact leaving Swanage for a while. He has managed to obtain employment overseas and its a chance of a lifetime.

Austen joined the team on the 10th May 1999 and quickly became a cliff technician (person who goes over the cliff). In April 2007 he became the Deputy Station Officer. During recent years Austen has been known for his straight management style and laying claim to the ownership of the Coastguard truck. The moment of clarity of ownership came one call out when in a crowded car park he announced that he was driving, as this is a family blog we can't repeat the actual words, however since then no one ever gets in the driving seat without seeking permission 1st.

During July Austen ran the team whilst Ian was away and during a very busy period managed the team superbly.

We hope you join us in wishing Austen a very safe trip, he will leave us in September so there is plenty of time to highlight some of Austen's best moments.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Dangerous Cliff

Today's incident to recover a life ring washed up in Durlston Bay came to a halt when we came up to this part of the cliff. With it looking like even more could come down at any moment, the risks were too great.

The reason we were going was concern that the life ring could be amongst other items from a boat and maybe someone used it to get ashore.

Coastguard helicopter 106 was on exercise at Durlston Head and was going to take a quick look for us, however a very helpful ILB crew came to help and picked the life ring up and even offered us a lift home.

It appears the item had been washed off a boat and joined the lost property pile slowly building in the station.

Our advice is one which is covering many areas of Dorset at the moment - keep clear of cliffs at the moment, Don't take risks.

The legal bit

Just a little reminder that this blog site along with our main web site and Facebook page hold the views of the team and is not an official web site of HM Coastguard or the Maritime Coastguard Agency.

The purpose of the sites is to keep visitors and the local community up to date with the incidents and news of the Swanage team along with other safety advice and local news where appropriate.

As a group of volunteers we honour our own code of conduct as well as the regulations set out by being members of the Coastguard Rescue Service.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Helicopter Medivac - Herston / Coombe

Swanage Coastguard Team were tasked 'inland' to Herston this afternoon to assist South West Ambulance Trust with a Helicopter Medivac - Coastguard Rescue One-Zero-Six (Based at Portland) landed close to A35 main road. For public safety the road was closed for short periods on landing and takeoff.

The casualty has been airlifted to hospital.

On leaving the hospital landing zone, R106 was then immediately tasked back to Weymouth for a similar job; it just shows how important the Portland Coastguard Helicopter is to our coastal community. 

If you want to have a say in its future you may wish to record your views in favour of retaining the helicopter. Or you might like to write to your local MP to say otherwise. Your democratic choice.

Training Bank

Clearly a large set of rocks outside the entrance to Poole Harbour have caused some sailors some problems in the last 24hours.

Messrs Rockett, Kitching and Patrick have been out 3 times, 18.30, 02.30 and again 06.30 to boats in trouble at Studland.

The fact it's also the beer festival may also be a factor in these incidents although the team tell me they have not been near the festival - in fact they were actually trying to get there to do some PR on the need to wear life jackets and the message of alcohol and boating.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

IRT Tasked to Drunken Swimmer.

Both Swanage Coastguard and Swanage ILB (RNLI) were tasked to a person who was reported as drunk who had swam a considerable distance off shore. On leaving the station the team were advised that this person had made shore - the lifeboat was stood down soon after launch but Coastguards proceeded to Studland to offer some words of advice to the swimmer. Apparently the swimmer told people on shore that it was funny that a 999 call had been made.

The swimmer could not be located in person, although after investigation he was found to be a worker at a local hotel. The IRT visited the hotel and spoke to the duty manager who will be discussing the matter with the member of staff in the morning.

Search Studland

Full Team Page at 14:27 for a missing person  - the person was eventually found safe and well.

HM Coastguard CG66

Is Big Brother always watching us?....well yes.... and sometimes it is watching over us in a good way.

The Maritime Coastguard Agency have a voluntary sceheme called CG66- The Voluntary Safety Identification Scheme.

If you are at sea and get into difficulty and you are unable to raise assistance, is there anyone ashore who knows what to do if you fail to return at your estimated time?

Would a friend or relative know who to contact? Would they have sufficient detail about your vessel and your likely whereabouts to be able to assist the Coastguard to locate you?

Would it not be a comfort to know that when you set out, the Coastguard has the details of your vessel on a database that is accessible to all Coastguard Co-ordination Centres throughout the UK so that they have the information they need to mount a search and rescue operation should you get into difficulty?

Quite simply, join HM Coastguard's CG66 Voluntary Safety Identification Scheme. by downloading the form and sending it to your nearest Coastguard Co-ordination Centre, in this case Portland MRCC.

Maritime Rescue Sub Centre HM Coastguard
Custom House Quay 

Dorset DT4 8BE 

The scheme is free and is for the benefit of the owners and skippers of all types of leisure vessels and small craft including kayaks.

Sunny, Sunny, Sunny

It's sunny in Swanage today....lots of people enjoying the beach, and boats tooting their horns.

Further down the Dorset Coast we still have safety warnings in place requesting people to stay away from the cliffs. The safety warning requests are there for beach users own safety, and not to spoil fun or curtail freedom; sadly a young lady lost her life due to a cliff fall only last month.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Sandbanks Ferry Suspended

The Sandbanks chain ferry is currently suspended as there has been an accident on the road.  It is unknown at present how long the closure will be in place for.  Listen to the local radio for travel updates or visit their website. Timed at 15.20

Monday, 6 August 2012

Stone Work

Different !

Liar, liar, pants are on fire.

In other public safety news....

Dorset Fire and Rescue have this morning issued a warning about drying underpants in microwaves.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Don't drink and drown.

Enjoy a drink? It's clear from the blog below that Eric does! He was celebrating a week of hard work he has put in to the Carnival this year (and every year!) - his wife took him home and made sure that he was tucked up in bed soon after.

Sadly two other people who had been out drinking took other courses of action. The IRT had to respond to two separate incidents at 01:45 and 02:40 this morning.

CROs - Patrick and Kitching - callsigns Hotel and Oscar - were firstly called to a distressed lady who was in the water off Swanage Pier. Two Policeman had taken immediate action and commandeered a boat, one ended up in the water pulling her to safety. Frankly if they hadn't intervened I doubt she would have survived; in this case it was a risk worth taking. The Swanage ILB responded and brought everyone back to the lifeboat house where the lady was taken on by South-West Ambulance. The Police helicopter was brought in for support. (I saw the Police getting a lot of verbal abuse from drunks last night, but ultimately they are there for law and order, and public safety - as this incident demonstrated)

The second incident saw a very drunk gentleman who, we were told could not swim, rowing out to a yacht in Swanage Bay with two friends, it was dark and they had no lifejackets. The report was that he had stolen the boat. Swanage Coastguard IRT were dispatched and requested the Swanage ILB to attend. After a brief search the gentleman was found aboard a yacht - given how intoxicated he was the ILB crew decided it would be wise to bring him ashore, rather than let him row ashore later. On landing he was apologetic which ultimately saved him a night in the Police cells, which would not have done his future career any good. The boat was found not to have been stolen.

If only he knew how much danger he put himself in. 

Sadly his friends thought it was funny and were taking photos for Facebook. As a 'local' perhaps this morning he might like to consider presenting himself to the Lifeboat house with a donation to refund their hard work or, perhaps volunteer some time towards Swanage lifeboat week which starts next Saturday.

The money raised helps ensure our lifeboat crews are able to respond to incidents such as this.

Eric and the full nine yards

Well, a yard actually, here's Eric demonstrating the yard of ale at the end of carnival a few moments ago...

Saturday, 4 August 2012

IRT - South Deep Brownsea Island.

A Swanage IRT Call out at 23:43 last night to report of 3 persons in a small tender who had lost power and were drifting towards the harbour entrance. A scout leader on Brownsea Island called it in on triple9, saying the boat was also unlit. Never good to be a small boat in a relatively busy shipping lane, at night, unlit!

Swanage Coastguard Rescue Officers (call-signs Papa and Oscar) deployed to the chain ferry to oversee Poole ILB (RNLI) who after a brief search of south deep found the boat and took a tow.

Dorset Police and Poole Coastguard team were dispatched to the Fisherman's Quay, Poole, due to concerns that the persons were acting suspiciously given the time, position of the incident and the fact the vessel was unlit.

Saturday 4th August Swanage Fireworks

The Swanage Coastguard Team will be again deploying tonight to provide safety cover at the Fireworks.

You may not know but the entire team are volunteers and all the time they have been putting in this week in support of our fantastic Swanage Carnival week is unpaid.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Swanage Cliff Rescue Team Deployed

Swanage Coastguard were 'Team paged' today for a person last seen on the edge of the cliff up on The Downs above Peveril Point.

A lady in a pink top was sat on the edge of the cliff and was unresponsive when a Swanage Town Council groundsman asked if everything was ok; he returned one minute later and the lady was gone - he called 999 and asked for the Coastguard.

Cliff Rescue Team ready to deploy again.

The team were on scene in 6 minutes and deployed a cliff rescue technician to ascertain whether the lady could be seen. Due to the nature of the cliffs and a number of blind spots the Swanage RNLI Inshore boat was asked to attend and put two of their crew ashore - another quick response from them.

Other rescue assets in the area were deployed including Maritime Coastguard Agency Boat - MCA Osprey along with Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 104 which was in the Weymouth area transiting back to Lee on Solent. A full search was undertaken.

Coastguard R106,  MCA Osprey and Swanage ILB (RNLI)

Although the Coastguard Cliff Rescue Team was stood down with nothing found - the initial information given was with good intent and matched what the team saw on the ground - lots of broken grass and slip marks including what appeared to be more marks half way down the cliff. Very odd.

The cliffs are a lot steeper than many people think!
(Photo:- Coastguard Oscar - during training last year)
Thanks to our local Portland MRCC for co-ordinating the rescue again!

Biscuit Order

The boss, Ian, is away but to welcome him back we've ordered some biscuits. He loves his biscuits does Ian, as regular blog readers will know.

The man's hob nob crazy.

Anyway the delivery lorry is making its way to the Coastguard Station as we speak.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Great News

Great news! ....We had a lovely thank you posted onto our Facebook page from Rachel  'the casualty' -  from Sunday's accident.  All the more pleasing as the Coastguard team left the scene with very bad feelings about the likely outcome.

So to hear from Rachel yesterday was simply great news.

For those of you without a Facebook account I've copied the post below.

Facebook Screenshot

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Picnic Blanket Rescue.

In other rescue action :- Coastguard Nick leapt to the rescue down at the carnival crabbing competition on the Stone Quay. Halfway through landing the catch of the day - a 1cm velvet swimming crab - his picnic blanket blew into the sea. Heroically he paddled in and rescued it.

The blanket was taken home and given a quick wash at 40C before recuperating in the airing cupboard; the picnic blanket is said to be in a stable condition.

Photos later please Nick.

In the interests of accuracy, I wasn't required to don the water rescue equipment and actually enter the water, instead I would like to acknowledge the support and assistance of G Whites Seafood Bar who lent me their mop to fish the blanket out.

Disclaimer: Other seafood restaurants are available, but they won't all lend you their mop.