Safety Spotlight – Recent Rescues (with videos)

We’re on call 24/7 all year round and there’s barely a moment when our help isn't needed for people in difficulties around our coasts.

Already this year, we’ve responded to 5,472 requests (up to 11am today, 12 March) for HM Coastguard’s help at all sorts of incidents – from our main role co-ordinating search and rescues to assisting authorities and our other emergency services partners.

Spotlight on recent rescues

In the last week, incidents have included reports of possible ordnance around the coast, people and pets in trouble on cliffs and swimmers and surfers caught out by a rapid change in weather conditions.

Ordnance (eg bombs, shells, grenades, land mines, munitions): After bad weather, many objects and potentially unexploded ordnance can often wash up on our shores. Report anything that looks out of place to the Coastguard.

Tip: Don’t touch the item or try to move it. Let the experts decide.

  •  On the south coast on 7 March, Selsey Coastguard Rescue Team was sent to search Medmerry beach following reports of possible ordnance. They took pictures of the findings which were sent to the Royal Navy’s EOD (Explosive Ordnance Division). The beach was cordoned off until the EOD conducted a controlled, safe explosion.

  • At Ardrossan in Scotland, the Ardrossan team was sent to help Police Scotland in a search of the beach. Again, the initial report was confirmed to be ordnance so the area was made safe until the disposal experts destroyed it safely.

Pets and people: Our pets are like family and owners can often get into difficulties themselves trying to rescue a four legged friend (of the canine or equine variety) in trouble at the coast.

Tip: Keep dogs on a lead near cliff edges and the shoreline.

  • Falmouth and St Agnes Coastguard Rescue Teams have helped at several incidents recently involving dogs. On 7 March they went to help owners of a dog which had slipped 10ft down an old quarry face onto a small ledge. Using specialist rope rescue equipment and an animal rescue bag, a rope rescue technician was lowered to the dog and she was successfully rescued.
  • Sunderland Coastguard Rescue Team also went for a doggy cliff rescue to a chocolate Labrador. A trained rope rescue technician was carefully lowered down the steep cliff. He secured the dog safely in the special animal rescue bag. He was then lowered to the bottom of the cliff to his waiting owner, no worse for his ordeal.  

Sea Swimming: Lots of people are enjoying cold water swimming but conditions can change quickly

Tip: Avoid going alone, wear suitable high visibility clothing. Take a fully charged mobile phone so you can call for help if you need it.

  • A swimmer had to be rescued when she got into trouble off Tunstall Beach, Holderness last week. Two people had gone for a swim when the conditions changed and one of them could not swim back to shore. The second swimmer called HM Coastguard for help. HM Coastguard’s helicopter from Humberside was sent along with HM Coastguard Withernsea and HM Coastguard Hornsea and RNLI Withernsea. The swimmer was winched to safety by the helicopter and taken to Hull Royal Infirmary.  More here.

Every day is different

Every day is different – we can be out on the coasts helping people who’ve become cut off by tides, stuck on cliffs or in mud or quicksand, and those generally in trouble on the water. Our teams also attend remote locations where our search and rescue helicopters with trained paramedics on board are often the swiftest option to help get people to safety. Not forgetting providing extra ‘people power’ for authorities at major incidents such as the recent discovery of a 1,000kg incendiary in Exeter where 11 of our teams were sent over a weekend to help evacuate people in 2,600 nearby properties.

In difficulties?

Please follow COVID-19 local area and safety guidance.

If you see anyone in difficulties or anything unusual around the coast, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Simply call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

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