Whitstable lifeboat crews in test of seamanship and first aid skills
Whitstable lifeboat crews were called to a serious incident onboard a cockle dredger off the harbour on Saturday when three of the vessel’s crew sustained injuries after it grounded heavily on a sandbank.
The scenario had been devised by Dr Terry Stefani, Whitstable Lifeboat Casualty Care Co-ordinator, and included casualties with simulated but realistic injuries played by paramedics Sian Sidders, Lisa Page and Ian Wood from the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAMB).
Onboard cockle dredger 'Oly Ray' the first casualty, the skipper, played by Sian Sidders had fallen heavily in the night whilst drunk, crawled to a bunk and now had severe back pain; she may have suffered spinal injuries and paraesthesia in the lower limbs. All through the rescue she demands an explanation about what is going on. Removing her from the bunk in a confined space would prove to be a challenging problem.
The second casualty, played by Ian Wood, was working behind the forward hatch door when the boat struck and the door smashed into him causing a head injury and crushing his humerus, whilst the third casualty, played by Lisa Page, is initially found in the upper part of the wheel house and is in a total panic, barely able to articulate as to what has happened and steadily has an asthma attack.
If all this was not enough for the two lifeboat crews to deal with, their first task was to locate the casualty vessel, the Whitstable cockle dredger 'Oly Ray', provided for the exercise by Cardium Shellfish.
The two lifeboat crews took it in turns to deal with the situation, the lifeboat being launched and sent off to a point about two miles seaward for a simulated search before being diverted to the actual exercise location alongside the west quay of the harbour. As part of the scenario the lifeboat crews were informed that help from other lifeboats, a helicopter and other emergency services was not available.
This year the two crews taking part were Helmsman Rob Judge with his crew of Tim Smith, Andy Williams and Alex Quan who went first, followed by Helmsman Andy Mayo with Ruth Oliver, Mike Keam and Liam Sidders taking the lifeboat for the second run.
On arrival alongside the 'Oly Ray' the crews first had to secure the lifeboat and, once onboard the casualty vessel, assess each casualty in turn and prioritise each depending on the severity of injuries. Whilst only an exercise, the pressure on the two lifeboat crews is very real. Every action is watched closely by Dr Stefani, Lifeboat Operations Manager Mike Judge and Estuary View Paramedic Lee Page.
Following completion of the exercise, the Dan Davies Trophy was presented to the winning crew of Helmsman Andy Mayo and his crew of Ruth Oliver, Mike Keam and Liam Sidders by Mrs Fiona Davies, daughter-in-law of Dr Dan Davies. She also presented the 'Kit' Davies trophy in memory of her late husband Christopher to Liam Sidders for the best individual performance.
Speaking after the competition Dr Terry Stefani said “It was a challenging scenario, but both crews rose to the task in a difficult and complicated situation, dealing with very seriously ill casualties in cramped and inaccessible locations around the casualty vessel”.
“Their professionalism, standard of communication between each other and the coastguard and the way they organised the rescue was exceptional; even the paramedics who acted as casualties admitted they would have struggled in the circumstances”.
Notes to editors
Whitstable RNLI Lifeboat Station was established in 1963 by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and is one of 237 lifeboat stations around the shores of the UK and Ireland. The volunteer crews provide a maritime search and rescue service for the Kent coast. They cover the area between the Kingsferry Bridge on the Swale, in the west, around the south-eastern side of Sheppey and along the coast through Whitstable and Herne Bay to Reculver in the east and outwards into the Thames Estuary.
The station is equipped with an Atlantic 85 lifeboat named Lewisco, purchased through a bequest of a Mrs Lewis of London who passed away in 2006.
She is what is known as a rigid inflatable inshore lifeboat, the boat’s rigid hull being topped by an inflatable sponson. She carries a crew of four people.
RNLI media contacts
Chris Davey, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, Whitstable Lifeboat Station.
07741 012004/ firstname.lastname@example.org
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For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.