It was a beautiful day down at the boat house yesterday, although the sea had a real swell with the incoming tide.  With this backdrop, there was a real focus on putting recent and ongoing training into practice with boat-based scenarios.

Although the weather was fine, the launch of the boat was slightly challenging due to the slope and flats of the beach shingle, level of the surf and the rolling tide. 

rescue boat launch Rescue boat launch, incoming tide rescue boat launch, tractor, trailer

However, the level of the tide and the swell of the water offered a good opportunity to target casualty retrieval, plus locating and assessing unidentified objects in the water, as continued practice in:

  • Using GPS and co-ordinates.
  • Effective radio and communication skills.
  • Helping trainees to learn the logistics of working together.
  • Management of the boat in the swell of the water, in order to safely manage dropping off the crew and retrieving the casualty.
  • Boat and safety awareness for crew moving between the boat and water, and back again.
  • Putting recent first aid training into practice.
  • Crew management of the stretcher and casualty – maneuvering safely onto the stretcher and then getting the stretcher onto the boat and then crew back onto boat without incident – all of which was quite difficult to do with such a swell on the water.

And of course all of this is essential practice because it’s the time of year when conditions in the water tend to be not only cold, but also pretty wild.


First up, the crews managed casualty retrieval using Ruth, our body dummy.

Casualty retrieval Casualty retrieval Ruth

Then the crews moved into a second training scenario: the suspicious object in the water training. To approach a suspicious object, the approach of the boat is extremely important, keeping the suspicious object down wind in case there is any substance likely to blow into the boat. Once the boat is safely positioned, crew can then observe and assess the object, with the aim of identifying if it is likely to be a dangerous substance. After identifying any poison markings, the information is radioed back to base, reading out phonetically.

This was all for training purposes, but when this type of incident happens for real coastguards / bomb disposal would have been alerted. In fact, these unidentified substances do occur in this area. Previously down here at Pett beach there was an incident of an unidentified substance, previous episode of substance smoking and bubbling in the sand. Crew investigated, patch of frothy orange, possibly a battery deteriorating.

Crew debrief showed that it was a good training day because new members of the team were challenged in the different situations and all crew members had the chance to work together with others they may not have worked with previously. As always, the beach and the sea also present an ever-changing challenge, even on a relatively calm day, which makes every practice and call-out situation unique. All of which means training is essential, especially across these two scenarios as these situations are two of the most common call-outs for us along here, and it’s all part of our work to try and help others enjoy these beaches safely.

If you’re interested in joining in us as a volunteer, please get in touch!