Potential casualties are being assured that ‘when there is no access for vehicles, we will find a way.’
That’s the message from Holy Island Coastguard, which has become one of the first teams in the country to be issued with mountain bikes.
It is hoped that the bikes will prompt improved response times when searching for a casualty in areas that would usually have to be searched on foot.
The mountain bikes will also offer the team increased mobility in a variety of operations.
Large areas of Holy Island are inaccessible with the coastguard’s 4x4 vehicle, including areas to the North side of the Island, the West side of the Island and out the farm tracks.
Up to now all incident working and training at these locations has had to be done of foot.
“Bikes will speed up the process of getting immediate attention to casualties,” said Holy Island station officer Ryan Douglas.
“Our colleagues in the police, fire and ambulance service in the cities have been using bikes for a number of years now, and have seen great results with improved response times.”
The mountain bikes are of a bespoke design for HM Coastguard use, and are equipped with a rear rack and pannier to carry essential life-saving equipment such as throw lines, lifejackets, first aid kits, maps and torches.
The Holy Island team is currently undergoing mountain bike training. Topics will include hazards (visual and surface), slow speed handling, traffic law, bike maintenance, and patrol procedure.
Ryan added: “By using bikes we will also be reducing the impact on the natural environment compared with using a vehicle, which is particularly important here as the whole Island is a nature reserve and comes under an area of outstanding natural beauty.
“The bikes will be great for public relations, promote good health, and set a positive example, as well as being cost-effective and very enjoyable.”
If you think you see someone in trouble at sea or at the coast call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.