Coastguard

Throwing a lifeline as Coastguard Lifeboat Station Wick calls for volunteers – Do you have what it takes to help save lives around our coastline?

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A visit from the John O’Groat Journal to find out a bit more about the operation of an emergency service in Wick led to a call for volunteers to help the local coastguard.

Ewen Scott, senior coastal operations officer at Coastguard Lifeboat Station Wick, works full-time at the base in the town sector near the harbor and had invited the newspaper to take a look at the facilities which are there, especially the new defibrillator kit.

Ewen Scott outside Coastguard Base Wick. Photo: DGS
The base of Coastguard Sector Wick in Wick.  Photo: DGS
The base of Coastguard Sector Wick in Wick. Photo: DGS

Life-saving defibrillators have been donated to remote communities in the Highlands, thanks to an initiative by HM Coastguard (HMC) and Ewen explained a bit about these devices. “Coastguard Rescue Officers have been trained to use them for a number of years but now the service has invested a lot of money to get one for every blue light vehicle within the Coastguard Every situation that one of our teams go into now, they will have it on hand – there will be no delay in finding one.”

Ewen explained how HMC offers defibrillators for adults and defibrillators specially designed for children under the age of eight. HMC personnel carry a variety of other equipment to deal with trauma situations, such as special tourniquets to stem catastrophic bleeding.

<a class=The Coast Guard carries defibrillators for adults and defibrillators specially designed for children. Photo: DGS” data-root=”/_media/img/” data-path=”FZI37S1RFV8445QE8UGX.jpg” data-ar=”1.78″/>
The Coast Guard carries defibrillators for adults and defibrillators specially designed for children. Photo: DGS
A tourniquet used by coastguard personnel to stem catastrophic bleeding.  Photo: DGS
A tourniquet used by coastguard personnel to stem catastrophic bleeding. Photo: DGS

The new defibrillators mean extra lifesaving capability in an emergency and help close some critical ‘gaps’ to bring access to automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) to people in the UK’s most remote communities. Nearly 500 AEDs are now available in HMC’s emergency response vehicles, coastal officers’ and division commanders’ vehicles, and all of its rescue coordination centers. AEDs are also found in all other buildings owned by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, including maritime offices across the UK, adding further protection for employees in the event of a cardiac incident at work.

Ewen throws a 25-meter lifeline from a special throw bag the team carries for water rescue incidents.  Photo: DGS
Ewen throws a 25-meter lifeline from a special throw bag the team carries for water rescue incidents. Photo: DGS

“There was a deployment of [defibrillators] across the country and all Caithness teams now wear them. This reduces the time it takes to find them, which can help save lives,” Ewen added.

He showed how each vehicle carries a “casualty care bag” as well as smaller bags when teams are on the search. Training is an integral part of how Coast Guard officers are able to deal with casualties. “The newcomers train over three weekends undergoing casualty care training, on-water training and search training both on the coast and inland,” said he declared.

“If someone has fallen off a cliff, for example, they have all the necessary equipment at hand. We do not carry painkillers [painkiller medication] but our rope access technician could take a paramedic down a cliff to administer it if necessary.”

Ewen shows some of the rescue packs carried by the blue HMC light vehicle.  Photo: DGS
Ewen shows some of the rescue packs carried by the blue HMC light vehicle. Photo: DGS
Ewen Scott, senior coastal operations officer at Coastguard Lifeboat Station Wick, shows off one of the new defibrillators.  Photo: DGS
Ewen Scott, senior coastal operations officer at Coastguard Lifeboat Station Wick, shows off one of the new defibrillators. Photo: DGS

In August 2019, a multi-agency team gathered at the ruins of Sinclair-Girnigoe Castle near Wick to rescue a boy who slipped and fell over a ledge, injuring himself and becoming trapped at the bottom of a pit. narrow ravine difficult to access, just above. the approaching rising tide. Coastguard personnel, along with other emergency crews, managed to reach the boy and a paramedic provided pain relief and medical aid until further help arrived. The dramatic scene where the boy was winched aboard the HMC helicopter was captured in a series of images reproduced in the John O’Groat Journal at the time.

Various emergency services gathered at Sinclair-Girnigoe Castle near Wick in August 2019 to rescue a boy who had fallen off a cliff.  Photos: DGS
Various emergency services gathered at Sinclair-Girnigoe Castle near Wick in August 2019 to rescue a boy who had fallen off a cliff. Photos: DGS

Related article:

Spectacular cliff rescue at Girnigoe Castle

The crew hoists the injured teenager into the <a class=Coastguard helicopter after it fell at Sinclair-Girnigoe Castle in August 2019. Picture: DGS” data-root=”/_media/img/” data-path=”8XTJMQBPG13QZS8GA2PR.jpg” data-ar=”1.38″/>
The crew hoists the injured teenager into the Coastguard helicopter after it fell at Sinclair-Girnigoe Castle in August 2019. Picture: DGS

Ewen recalled the event saying: “The only thing I remember is that the multi-agency work, with the police and the ambulance, was a very positive thing. We have already organized training events with ambulance, lifeboat and other services.”

He also explained how the other members of the HMC in Area 2 are volunteers and carry out rescues across the Highlands from northern Applecross and around the coast to Inverness. “Teams based in these areas all have similar equipment and live locally. We are looking to recruit new people in Dornoch and Melvich in particular. Ideally if there are people in Reay and Portskerra who would be interested in volunteering , they can come into contact.

The coastguard agency has three teams based in Caithness at Wick, Duncansby and Scrabster and assists with coastal rescue as well as inland waterways where required.

If you are interested in volunteering for the Coastguard, please visit www.gov.uk/volunteer-as-a-coastguard for more information. There is also an HMC Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/HMCoastguardHighland/

A rescue dummy at Wick's base that the team uses for training.  Photo: DGS
A rescue dummy at Wick’s base that the team uses for training. Photo: DGS

“Good people have left the team and we are looking to recruit,” added Ewen.


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