Being a member of the Coastguard Rescue Service isn't just about being on the front line in searches and rescues - there's a lot goes on behind the scenes too.
We often show you pictures of our training sessions and kit nights and these happen regularly every month. But we rarely mention the record keeping and audit trail that goes with every piece of kit we use, with every training session we undertake, with every rescue we perform and indeed with every visit we make to the station.
To ensure uniformity and traceability right across the country, all record keeping must be to the same spec - on the correct forms, with the correct issue number and correct branding, all entries in the station log must show precise details and be written in the correct colour pen - red, green, blue or black - according to the rank of the writer and/or the nature of entry (routine visit or a SAR tasking).
The equipment manifests must show the serial numbers of every piece of equipment we carry as well as dates of issue and life expectancy. The equipment is also listed on an Operational Readiness checklist which has to show exactly where each piece of equipment is kept - and if it is in the vehicle, whereabouts in the vehicle (which box or bag number and location eg the Nearside or Offside of the luggage area).
Once checked, most of the rope rescue equipment is stowed in a secure bag; the bag has to be tied in a particular way with a particular knot and a security tag threaded through in a particlar way and initialed and dated. Water rescue equipment isn't bagged and tagged, but its location has to be recorded still in the Operational Readiness checklist.
The team has used this quieter time of the year to double check that we are following the national standard for record keeping; the volunteers have spent many many hours since the New Year checking data entries and pen colours, cross referencing dates, checking that documents have been printed on the correct issue paperwork within approved brand guidelines and generally having a Spring Clean of anything that doesn't fit with the nationally approved systems.
In addition to this behind the scenes admin, we've also managed to attend four incidents in that period - including a person over the cliff at Old Harry and a large multi agency search at Studland - as well as continued liaison with local stakeholders and agencies regarding the slip at Sheps Hollow, five training sessions and a kit check night. Oh, and all go to our full time jobs in between times!
So yes - being part of the team is about Search and Rescue but there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes too.