A group of Coastguards in various uniforms stand on a grey, rocky landscape. Above, a Coastguard helicopter is hovering.

Episode Three

Coastguard Episode Three

A look into the stories we'll follow in episode three of our behind-the-scenes TV series, Coastguard

In Wales, the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter from Caernarfon is sent to help a kite surfer in trouble at sea. As time ticks away, concerns grow for him as rescuers worry about the conditions offshore.   
In the Port of Tyne, the Survey and Inspection team head onto a Singaporean bulk carrier which has been in port for 17 days. The vessel is carrying high risk cargo and, if a major fault is found during the inspection, the vessel could be detained. 
A 999 call comes in from an individual who has been caught out by the incoming tide, after going for a swim. Alone among hazardous rocks, the Newquay coastguard helicopter is tasked to an intricate and challenging rescue.
Meanwhile, the fixed wing aeroplane is on a Counter Pollution-tasked flight over British waters. The team fly over an area with a peculiar sheen, and record information to share back for analysis. The data is quickly sent back to HQ, where the Counter Pollution team get to the bottom of the findings.  
Newquay coastguard helicopter crew are once more called into action after receiving a call that a climber is injured along the face of nearby sea cliffs. An awkward and challenging rescue lies ahead with the helicopter crew relying on the expertise of a Coastguard Rescue Team to help.   
In Fareham at the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, a fishing vessel triggers a distress signal, raising concern for the crew’s welfare. With no time to dwell and being unable to make contact with the vessel, the team organise lifeboats and nearby trawlers to help before it’s too late.

A preview of the episode

Birds eye view of a HM Coastguard helicopter base Watch now

This week’s episode of Coastguard opens with the race against time to find a kite surfer in trouble at sea, having been blown offshore.

It's an incident which demonstrates the speed with which teams have to respond. As the 999-call comes in, the caller tells operators that a man has drifted out to sea, but that he can no longer see sight of him. 

Aberdfyfi, Borth and Aberystwyth Coastguard Rescue Teams rush to the scene alongside the launch of the Aberdovey inshore lifeboat, before quickly calling in the helicopter based at Caernarfon. 

The TV series follows the helicopter and its crew as they make way to the scene after it's revealed the kitesurfer was in the water for 45 minutes. 

It is a reminder that open water can be dangerously cold, even when the air temperature is a lot warmer. It is also a reminder to always have a means of calling for help when out at sea. 

The open sea is generally a lot colder than a swimming pool and offers far more risk, but the wide expanse and isolation is a huge draw for many. 

A person suddenly entering the sea can experience cold water shock which can be fatal; this can happen even at temperatures as high as 20C. Swimmers and watersports users should enter the water slowly to allow their body to acclimatise. When entering the water for any length of time it is advisable to wear a wetsuit, to keep your core body warm as long as possible. 

Swimmers should not take inflatables to the beach – they can very easily be blown offshore, and people can quickly find themselves in a similarly scary situation to that shown in this week’s episode. 

HM Coastguard advice is to, where possible, wear a Portable Flotation Device (PFD) – more commonly known as a lifejacket – when engaging in water sports, and to always have a means of calling for help. 

Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) are another great piece of safety kit to have with you, as they provide a strong signal when activated that helps rescuers locate where you are. Finding someone in water, particularly choppier water, can be very difficult due to the natural swell of waves. 

Anyone planning a trip out on the water should check our safety advice.

Our 999 calls have a very distinctive ring for a very distinctive reason
James, Team Leader at the JRCC

Cliff rescue experts

Heading over to Cornwall, we watch the rescue of experienced climber Oliver Barton, injured and stuck on Bosigran Cliff. After a quick 999 call, it is up to the Coastguard Rescue Teams and helicopter to save him.

Oliver, 47, was taking part in a group climb over the Easter weekend when, around 15m from the top of the cliff, he slipped and fell.

He said: “My foot slipped and I fell about three metres, landing awkwardly. Because of adrenaline it took me a while to realise something was wrong, but my foot was unnaturally bent to the side and clearly dislocated.

“At first all I could feel was panic, but then thoughts turned into something practical – how will we get out of this, who can we call for help.

“I didn’t want to cause any more damage or put pressure on the climbers around us, so we did the right thing and called the Coastguard.”

It wasn’t long before Coastguard Rescue Teams from St Ives, Penzance and Lands End, inshore and all weather lifeboats from St Ives RNLI and the Coastguard helicopter from Newquay were at the scene.

It was up to the CRTs on the ground to help coordinate the response, and evacuate the area and make it safe, so Oliver and his climbing partner could be winched up to the helicopter and transferred to hospital.

Once at hospital Oliver discovered he had fractured the talus bone in his foot. After his bones were reset and put in a cast, Oliver returned to London where he had surgery, now in the early stages of recovery on two crutches.

“I was really unlucky landing how I did and where I did,” he said, “I was unlucky as it’s a pretty uncommon bone to break, but all I can think is how much worse it could have been. The recovery is going to be a long road but I can’t wait to get back to climbing.

“I am so grateful to everyone involved – the Coastguard teams at the top were so key in coordinating things on the ground and sorting the operation, and the skillset and compassion of the helicopter crew, how they protected my foot, was just fantastic.

“I’ve always been a supporter of the Coastguard and now I’ve been rescued by them, it just proves how important the service is, you never know when you’ll need the Coastguard.”
Text screenshot from video with explanation of downwash being very dangerous Watch now
Newquay helicopter crew

Winch paramedic profile: What are they made of?

Search and Rescue Winch Paramedic Abi Wild was a huge part of the cliff rescue operation in Cornwall, winching two climbers, including Oliver with broken foot, from the cliff face to the helicopter. She then checked them over while on route to hospital.

Abi became a Winch Paramedic back in 2019 and said the job is “the perfect combination” of her favourite things - the outdoors, adventure and saving lives.

In just four years with the Coastguard she has helped around 300 people.

Abi’s adventurous side began from a young age - growing up in Conwy, North Wales, she spent her childhood either on the beach or in the mountains.

In later years Abi studied and travelled across the world, completing a degree in Paramedic Science at the University of Edgehill and more recently a Masters in Pre-Hospital Critical Care at the University of Stavanger in Norway.

Throughout her studies, Abi’s career journey started with lifeguarding in Wales, Cornwall and Australia. More recently Abi worked for the South Western Ambulance Service’s Hazardous Area Response Team for four years, before becoming a Winch Paramedic.

Abi said: “Life is precious and too short to do things that don’t bring you happiness, so I figured if I found a job I loved, I would never have to ‘work’ a day in my life. So far, it’s working wonderfully.”

A significant and favourite moment for Abi was successfully rescuing the crew on board the yacht Lady Rosemary, as a result receiving the Billy Deacon award.

These are awarded to winch paramedics for meritorious service during search and rescue helicopter operations in the UK and Northern Ireland.

“Nobody does this job for recognition and at the time I wasn’t fully aware of how desperate the situation was or how difficult the rescue would be, but I am so very pleased we got there in time and that the engineers, pilots and winch operators I work with are so skilled, as without them the ending would not have been a happy one.”

Next episode: On Sunday, Channel 5 at 9pm

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