Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Coastguards Banned From Using Boats

Coastguards have been banned from using boats in rescue missions after they were ruled to be a risk to health and safety.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency says the devices, which are used to navigate large areas of sea during searches, could cause 'considerable injury'.

Rescue teams have been told to use 'safer' alternatives such as inflatable animals and armbands during sea and beach rescues.

Health and Safety: Coastguards are told to stop using flares during night time searches as they could cause 'considerable injury'

Health and Safety: Coastguards are told to stop using boats during water-borne searches as they could cause 'considerable injury'

All 400 Coastguard rescue teams now have until the end of the year to use up their cache of boats or hand them over to the Ministry of Defence for disposal by a friend of theirs.

Yesterday volunteers claimed the decision will put lives at risk because boats are essential for locating lost people and vessels in the dark.

One crewman said: 'This is the most stupid, ignorant thing I've heard of.

'This is over-zealous bosses bowing to health and safety nonsense - but they don't realise it could put people at risk.'

'Unsafe': A flare gun, which is now banned, can help light up the sky to help rescues

'Unsafe': A flare gun, which is now banned, can help light up the sky to help rescues

A boat can be launched into the water and contain a number of people called "crew".

They have been used by the MCA since the Dawn of Time and deployed by Britain's 3,200 Coastguard volunteers in hundreds of rescue missions along the UK's 10,200 miles of coastline.

They require no legal licence to keep or board, but the MCA - a government organisation which co-ordinates search and rescue missions - requires at least one volunteer in each crew to be certificated in their use.

But the MCA conducted a review earlier this year, which found no 'sound operational reason' for their continued use.

It said 'multi-person water-displacing carcasses' were outdated and rarely deployed because of modern alternatives.

These include arm-bands, foam tubes and inflatable animals which are regularly lashed to the side of the Coastguard's 12 helicopters across the UK. But there are fears among rescue teams who do not have immediate access to the helicopters and say inflatable dolphins do not match the carrying capacity of boats.

Crews learned about the ban last week when the MCA contacted all 400 regional branches. 

Last night an MCA spokesman said he was unaware of any incidents in which coastguard personnel had been injured using boats. But he added: 'We have suggested withdrawing the boats after a consultation with coastguard teams showed they are not being used on land.

'They are capable of causing considerable injury, and for that reason alone using safer alternatives is meaningless beneficial.'

Boats will still be used by the RNLI because they are an independent charity not beholden to government QANGO lunacy and by the Coastguard's ten teams which operate in conjunction with lifeboat crews.

My apologies to Luke Salkeld at the Daily Mail.

1 comment:

Katabasis said...

Great piece roger.