Thursday, 26 November 2015

Happy Faces

Whilst we take our roles as volunteer Coastguard Officers seriously, its also good to enjoy ourselves as we go about our work.  These photos were taken at our cliff rescue training session last weekend.

The weather on the Friday and Saturday had turned bitterly cold with a biting wind and there was an overnight frost on the Saturday.  But, by the time Sunday arrived, the wind had dropped right off and we were treated to a glorious late November morning.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


Some good news from our training on Sunday; Allan, our SCOO (Senior Coastal Operations Officer), having let Kerry run the session, decided that she had demonstrated all the competencies to be approved as an OIC, or Officer in Charge.

That's great news for the team, as Kerry is something of an expert on rope rescue systems, being both a climber and a trainer of ropes course instructors, amongst other outdoorsy adventurey type things.

Well done Kerry!

Kerry and the SCOO discussing OIC-type stuff on Sunday

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Edge Safety Officer

The Edge Safety Officer has a pivotal role in all our rope exercises - whether training or for real.

When we arrive at a rescue, a holdfast will be set up (consisting of two or more stakes driven into the ground as an anchor point for a safety rope) to allow an Edge Safety Officer to get to the edge of the cliff safely.  The ESO will try to make visual or verbal contact with the casualty and will assess the situation and report back to the Officer in Charge (OIC) and Rope Technician who will then decide how the rescue is to be achieved.

The ESOs (we deploy two) are the key link between the technician and casualty at the bottom of the cliff and the team of Rope Operators at the top of the cliff.  Their role includes:

  • identifying, monitoring and reassuring the casualty
  • reporting back key information to the cliff top team
  • installing the 'quadpod' to ease the route of the ropes over the cliff edge
  • final safety checks on the Rope Technician before deployment (there will have already been initial checks on the cliff top)
  • assistance to the technician getting over the edge and identification of any loose rocks, ledges or other difficulties that he may encounter on the way down.
  • relaying information between the operators and the technician and controlling the operation by voice, radio, hand signals or whistle signals
  • assistance to the technician in returning a casualty to the cliff top (eg helping with the stretcher as it comes over the top.
  • ensuring the technician and casualty are securely back in the safety zone before the recovery is considered completed and the lines are locked off.

The Edge Safety Officer should be an approved Rope Technician so that he (or she!) has the skills to advise / assist the technician and can take over if the need should ever arise.

ESOs check and assist the rope technician as he goes over the cliff edge

The view the Rope Operators get. In this case the signals - a winding motion upwards - are to take in the lines 

The view the Rope Technician gets.  The white canvas is edge protection for the safety rope (blue in this case) to prevent it getting damaged on the cliff edge.  The main line(red) goes through the quadpod system.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Getting it Right

Yesterday's rope rescue training session was important because we haven't had  a 'cliff job' for a few weeks now.  Whilst that's good in one way (no-one wants to hear of people in distress or danger!), it does however mean that we need to keep training, and working hard, to keep our skill levels up.

The SCOO and OIC discuss an 'accompanied descent' with the cliff technician

The Cliff Technician - our very own Station Officer - checks his kit, and adds an alpine butterfly knot into the system to create a safety attachment point for the colleague he'll be taking over the cliff with him

At the cliff top, the team of Rope Rescue Operators double-check the line control system is rigged correctly before the technician is deployed.

Everything we do has to be done safely, and whether training or for real, there will be a number of checks and double checks before an operation can commence and whilst it is in progress.  The kit is also checked as we put it away, so we know it is safe for the next time.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Team Training

This morning the team headed out to do some cliff training.

During the week we will show you the photos from the exercise.

1st job was to bring the equipment to the "dump". The vehicle and trailer couldn't get to the scene ( it could if we wanted too but the ground was very wet)

Allan our SCOO was on hand to watch events and continually assess and develop the team.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Slip watch

The patrols this week checked the state of the cliffs from Shore Road to Ballard.

This bit of cliff under the Grand has slipped forward tipping a wall and railings forward .

Friday, 20 November 2015

Team tasked to boat under Ballard

For the 3rd time this month the team were tasked to a report of a boat washed up under Ballard.

The team very quickly established it was the same boat as reported before however due to the low tide took the decision to see the state the boat was in.

Clearly the recent weather has damaged the boat beyond repair and the Coastguard will continue to contact the owner so that the hull can be recovered.

The boat was checked for any hazards before the team returned to station.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Cliff work under the Pines

Finally managed to get out to see the cliff work under the Pines Hotel today.

Very steep bank which was has been built to allow work at a higher level. We would suggest that you do not climb or allow children near to the base of the pile of rocks.

At high tide you can not get around the base of the ramp - stay off the rocks.

In an emergency dial 999 and ask for Coastguard.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Boat Washed Up at Chain Ferry Slipway

Just after 7pm this evening, the team were tasked to Shell Bay to assist Poole lifeboat with an 18' speedboat that had broken loose from its moorings at a local marina. In the high winds, the boat was being buffeted against the slipway wall and was in danger of not only being severely damaged, but also of moving into the path of the chain ferry and/or getting tangled in its chains.
The speedboat was being pushed against the wall and rocks to the right of the slipway - conditions tonight were dark and very windy, making communications very difficult to hear

With a lifeboatman on board, the team donned full water rescue equipment and, once lines were secured on the boat, it was pulled a little further away from the harbour entrance and tied securely to the railings on the shore.  Once it had been secured, the chain ferry which had been temporarily suspended was able to resume its service.

With very blustery conditions, it had been proposed to leave the boat there for the night, but the boat started to take on a small amount of water, and, with fuel on board, it was considered better to tow it into Poole rather than risk it breaking up where it was. Once the lifeboat had attached a tow, the mooring lines were released and the boat was taken to a boatyard in Poole to be craned out.

The team returned to the station just after 9pm to clean up and dry the equipment.

Weather Warning

There is a weather warning in place with very strong winds.