Status & Training Achievements All in One Week

It’s been a busy few days here at St Abbs Lifeboat. Firstly, we were really pleased when our boat passed its independent inspection with flying colours this week. The boat is expected to meet the strict requirements of the Rescue Boat Code and is therefore inspected by independent inspectors every 2.5 years. The Rescue Boat Code is effectively the bible for search and rescue vessels, setting out full specifications and requirements for the boat, the training required and what is expected in terms of maintenance of the service in general. We ourselves of course carry out inspections and maintenance on the boat throughout the year, so it was no surprise really that the boat passed with flying colours. However, there’s no room for complacency with these things, so it’s always good to have an independent agency certify this fact.

Then today we are delighted to confirm that the service has passed its annual inspection to maintain its Declared Facility Status. This means that we have proved to Her Majesty’s Coastguard that we are able to safely and competently carry out search and rescue operations and that we are fully in compliance with the Rescue Boat Code in all our operations. We first achieved this status as an independent lifeboat in June 2019 and as we are committed to providing the best service we possibly can for our area, we’ve put an awful lot of time and effort into maintaining this status, and constantly seeking to improve the quality of our operations.

HM Coastguard is “the tasking authority” that coordinates maritime search and rescue operations in the UK, at sea and on the coast, and draws on a list of “declared facilities” to assist with this, be these Independent or RNLI vessels. This is done by teams working at Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) who take emergency calls and, if required, allocate resources to respond. They are the planners who take the lead in organising responses within the UK search and rescue region.  It is therefore critical that St Abbs Lifeboat always maintains it’s Declared Facility Status to remain part of this coordinated organisation.

As an example, St Abbs Lifeboat was tasked by HM Coastguard to assist in a search and rescue operation on 24th April this week to work alongside Eyemouth Coastguard, Dunbar Coastguard, North Berwick Coastguard Rescue Team, RNLI Eyemouth Lifeboats and the Coastguard Helicopter R199 from Prestwick to search for a paddle boarder in difficulty following a distress call received on VHF16. Multi-agency partnership working of this nature allowed a wide search on land and air between Burnmouth to Siccar point to be covered in the shortest space of time possible. St Abbs Lifeboat is proud to work as part of this amazing network of search and rescue operatives.

A huge amount of volunteer time goes into ensuring that the inspections of our service by HM Coastguard go to plan and achieve the result we all want – the recognition that we are striving to provide a first class service. Therefore, as always, we must send out a huge thank you to all our volunteers and also to all our supporters who enable us to purchase, maintain and develop the resources we need to provide this service and meet these standards. So thank you to all.

And then just to round the week off, today we are carrying out some “major incident” training. All of our crew are trained in first aid by completing an approved First Aid Course. However, as many of our shouts involve medical emergencies, we like to take our first aid casualty care training to higher levels.  To this end, today we have carried out “major incident” training both in the harbour and on the lifeboat. Crew practiced with manikins including a paediatric manikin which was bought for us through Eyemouth High School’s Youth & Philanthropy Initiative. The crew practiced basic life support procedures for both adults and children, procedures for diver deterioration, child asthma/choking deterioration, drowning and general accident trauma. These exercises involved numerous core competencies required of crew including for example airway management, use of the defibrillator, spinal control movement, splinting and haemorrhage control and safe transfer of a casualty on and off the boat.  All these tasks were made just that little bit harder by the steady swell of the sea.

The day was organised and overseen by our clinical governance doctors, Lyle Moncur and Ross Archibald, as well as A&E doctors Caitlin and Annabel. Lyle Moncur works as a consultant in emergency medicine and major trauma in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. He is also a pre-hospital care doctor with the Great North Air Ambulance Service. Ross is a Consultant in Emergency Medicine at St John’s Hospital and Royal Infirmary Edinburgh, and has recently completed a Fellowship with the Emergency Medical Retrieval Service in Glasgow. We are incredibly lucky to have such highly qualified mentors as part of our team.

So, a busy week for the whole team here at St Abbs. Here’s hoping next week is just a little bit quieter, although we remain, as always, ready for service.