Our team are regularly asked at events who to call in the event of someone finding legacy military ordnance or a marine pyrotechnic (flare) on the beach or in the sea. Amongst some of the HM Coastguard’s multifaceted roles includes investigating objects which have been washed up onto the coastline which may present a danger to coastal users.
Metal detecting has been around for many years and is increasing in popularity. Whether you have a passion for history or treasure hunting it is a great way to keep fit, improve your wellbeing by being outside in the fresh air, discover history and meet new friends.
Our team undertake lifejacket clinic’s at lifeboat station’s, yacht clubs and harbours from time to time and enjoy chatting to yachtsmen and women about all aspects of maritime safety. One question which crops up regularly relates to….. “what is the difference between a personal locator beacon and an automatic identification system”…… So, we have put together this blog to simply explain the differences.
Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)
A PLB is a manually activated device that’s transmit’s a radio signal on the 406 MHz frequency to specific Cospas-Sarsat (international, humanitarian search and rescue system) low-earth orbiting and GPS satellites which detect and locate aviators, mariner’s and land-based users such as climbers, hikers or mountain bikers in remote locations in distress. The satellites then relay information, via ground tracking stations and Mission Control Centre’s (MCC), and then onto a rescue co-ordination centre.
Where is the UK’s Mission Control Centre?
The designated UK Mission Control Centre (MCC) is the National Maritime Operation’s Centre (NMOC) based at Fareham in Hampshire. Wherever in the world a UK registered PLB is activated, the Mission Control Centre in the respective country which it is operated will then pass the details to the NMOC for further action and investigation. This may involve the NMOC tasking search and rescue assets eg lifeboat, helicopter, Coastguard Rescue Team etc to the last location transmitted if in the UK.
How do PLB’s work?
Most PLB’s are also equipped with GPS receivers, thus being able to calculate and send an accurate location embedded within the beacon’s 406 MHz message. Other PLB’s without GPS rely solely upon the less accurate Doppler principle to establish the beacon’s position. The beacon also transmits a homing signal on VHF, to which Search and Rescue helicopters; and lifeboats can home in on.
The signal transmitted by the distress radio beacon includes a digital message which allows the transmission of encoded data such as the unique identifier for the beacon that transmitted the alert and if the beacon has an integral GPS, the beacon’s position. Otherwise the beacon’s signal may need to be detected by two or three satellites before its position can be sufficiently estimated, therefore it may take longer for Search and Rescue assets to locate the PLB and it’s owner.
Return Link Service PLB’s
Return Link Service PLB’s are being activated during 2020, which is a re-assurance signal back to a new generation of SAR beacons to inform the user that their distress signal and location have been detected. This new capability is unique to the Galileo satellites. A detailed blog explaining this new concept will be posted soon.
What happens when you have purchased a PLB?
Once a PLB unit is purchased, there are no subscription fees and the battery should last, if not used, for 5-6 years. You must register the PLB with the Marine Coastguard Agency and maintain accurate registration details, including the 24-hour Emergency Point of Contact details. UK Beacon Registry contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01326 211569
PLB’s are Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS) approved. The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System is the technical, operational and administrative structure for maritime distress and safety communications worldwide.
How does the Automatic Identification System (AIS) work?
Automatic Identification System (AIS) Man-overboard (MOB) is a personal locator device that works electronically exchanging data with multiple ships and base station’s via VHF. It is not GMDSS approved or monitored in the UK by the HM Coastguard. It is also limited in range (around 5 miles in open water). An AIS MOB device can be rigged into a lifejacket to activate automically with the inflation of a lifejacket.
AIS is also a requirement for larger pleasure vessels on some European inland waterways. This varies by country and regionally by waterway.
‘International Control Room Week’ is all about celebrating and thanking those people who are at the end of a ‘999’ call. From 19th to the 25th October 2020 the week is dedicated to celebrating the achievements of truly remarkable people who are at the end of the phone or radio when we need them, keeping us calm, reassuring us and updating us. They stay strong, supporting us through the most challenging times.
HM Coastguard Operation’s Centre’s around the UK are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Ready to take ‘999’ emergency calls or Mayday radio calls from someone who needs help at the coast, on the River Thames or at sea urgently. There is no doubt it’s a highly challenging and demanding role.
Coastguard Operation’s room staff ensure that search and rescue assets such as coastguard rescue teams, helicopters, lifeboats and other blue light services are in the right place where they need to be, at the right time – helping and supporting as the emergency situation unfolds.
This year is even more important than in previous years as the men and women based in the Coastguard Operation’s Room’s have continued to provide emergency capability right through out lock-down and continue to do so through the Corona Virus emergency.
To mark the celebration, APD Communications have also pledged to donate £1 to Mind the mental health charity every time #UnsungHeroes is used across social media and in the press during the 19th -25th October 2020. Mental Health has such a huge impact on the emergency services. With over 9 in 10 workers experiencing low mood, poor mental health and stress at some point whilst working for the emergency services. The challenging nature of the job, with its unique pressures puts staff at greater risk.
Please spare a thought for all the staff deployed in all control rooms providing essential communication, support and assistance to members of the public in times of need. Just some of those control rooms include: Police, Fire and Rescue Service, Ambulance Service, Highways Agency, Maritime Control, Border Agency, Coastguard, RNLI, Prison Service, Public Utilities, Armed Forces, St John’s Ambulance, Red Cross to name a few.
Below is a short video clip showing how the HM Coastguard would take an emergency call and despatch search and rescue resources. As a reminder if you hear or see an animal or person in difficulty in the water at the coast dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ and ask for the Coastguard.
As a result of COVID-19 safety protocols our RNLI Community Safety Team is currently unable to deploy to deliver face2face water safety messaging and drowning prevention advice sessions. We have recently witnessed a significant increase in the number of visitors to UK beaches and coastline coupled with a reduced number of beaches that are able to be covered by lifeguards it is even more important to get water safety messaging out to as wide an audience as possible.
Our team is asking whether B&B’s, hotels, cafes, restaurants, councils, shops, pubs, bars and businesses selling beach goods across Thanet which are located alongside or close to coastal and beach areas can help us share the Beach Safety message – “Beach lifeguards Can’t Everywhere This Summer” by printing and displaying the poster (downloadable poster contained here and below); and having conversations with their customers and members of the public about knowing to call the Coastguard via ‘999’ should they see or hear someone in difficulty in the water.
Andy Mills from Thanet’s RNLI Community Safety Team said “we readily appreciate that this is a very busy time of the year for all coastal businesses who have also had extra challenges to cope with due to COVID-19, but we are asking them to do what they can to help us spread the safety message “Beach lifeguards can’t be everywhere this Summer – Protect Your Family, Follow Safety Advice, Save Lives – In An Emergency Dial ‘999’ for the Coastguard”.
Obviously, we don’t want to put anyone at risk and only pass on the message where it is safe to do so complying with the latest Government guidelines. We want everyone to have a fun time at the coast, but taking on board some safety advice before you visit could help you from getting into difficulty and putting yourselves and others in danger.
Volunteer lifeboat crews and HM Coastguard Rescue Teams have tirelessly remained available 24/7 to respond to emergency calls from members of the public throughout COVID-19″.
Thank you for your help in sharing the safety messaging which is much appreciated.
It is a difficult time for us all and most especially those front-line workers in the emergency services who are looking to protect us all and keep us safe. We can all do our bit by staying at home and only going out as advised by government guidance. However, it is vitally important that we look after ourselves and keep fit and healthy. Putting a few things in place in your daily routine will have massive benefits not only for your physical self but also your mental health as well…because physical and mental health is inextricably linked.
As well as being a Community Safety Adviser for Thanet RNLI Community Safety Team, I am also an Assistant Athletics Coach and Run Leader for Thanet Roadrunners AC, whose motto is ‘A Club for All’. This attitude is something I believe passionately in so I thought I would give some simple tips for staying fit and healthy through these difficult times.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a gym work out.
A lot of families have been following a plethora of daily online exercise sessions, but that isn’t right for everyone. Without a proper warm-up or following the correct instructions or not having the right fitness levels or flexibility you could get injured. And these types of sessions aren’t designed for everyone. Tendering to your garden, mowing the lawn, doing a bit of DIY will have just as much benefit. Even putting on the music loud and dancing with your partner will put you on their good books and will do wonders for your relationship.
Your house and garden can be a gymnasium.
It is amazing what you can find that can be good exercise. You might have a trampoline, badminton net and rackets or a climbing frame or even old skipping rope. Why not get the kids involved in creating some imaginative games…maybe even set up your own garden Olympics.
Your dog is still your best friend.
Dogs love walkies so go and take them out and be their best pal. Even if you don’t have a dog, you can still go out for a walk. If you have never exercised before, this is the best way of keeping fit. All you need to do is the start off at your normal walking pace and maybe after a couple of weeks start to walk a little bit quicker. You will feel better getting out of the house and will become energised when you come back.
If you are used to exercising, as long as we are all allowed to exercise, go for a run or cycle around where you live.
Make sure you exercise according to your age and fitness.
We don’t want you getting any injuries. Only do what you feel you are capable of doing. Make sure anything you do becomes your new daily routine. If you skip a day for one reason or another, don’t beat yourself up…but make sure you get back to your new routine….you will feel better for it.
This is one of the biggest traps at the moment. By taking in, more calories than you are burning will mean that you will put on weight. I have been sticking to three basic meals a day and if I am peckish will eat a piece of fruit.
As for me, I have established a new weekly routine which I hope will keep my weight in check and maybe lose a pound or so each week.
It involves 30 minutes of dog walking every other day with my wife and two westies. The other alternate day includes a 30-minute hill session running up and down my local area dodging any walker with a bit of social distancing. This session is with government guidelines and is pushing my metabolism and continuing to build my strength.
Also, every night…because I am not a morning person… I do about 5 -10 minutes of conditioning/exercises including sit-ups, press-ups, squats, plank etc. which I am increasing each week steadily.
This new routine is keeping me sane and safe. However, not everyone is the same, and you should find something that is suitable and works for you. (Please consult your GP or other qualified medical professional before engaging in any form of fitness activity).
The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) and the HM Coastguard are both calling on people not to take part in any water based activity on or in the sea, to help reduce the risk to the lifeboat crews, Coastguard Rescue Teams and Coastguard helicopter crews being exposed to COVID-19 and the pressure on their own time.
Normally, hoards of people would be flocking to the coast over the Easter weekend and holiday period to enjoy the joys of the beaches and coastal area’s. However, both the RNLI and HM Coastguard are asking everyone to abide by the government instructions to Stay at Home, Protect The NHS and Save Lives.
The government have decreed that everyone is permitted to go outside for their daily exercise whether it it is a walk, run, cycle or jog, however, the RNLI and HM Coastguard do not recommend taking part in any activity that is on or in the sea. This would include: any type of sailing, personal water craft (PWC), in-beach play, boat fishing, rowing, motor boating, kitesurfing, paddle boarding, off-shore angling, kayaking, canoeing, coasteering, diving, climbing or swimming amongst others.
The RNLI’s lifeboat crews and the HM Coastguard Rescue Teams are still available 24/7 for emergency calls, however, on every occasion a crew or team is called out this will put extra pressure on the personnel responding to the call and other emergency services such as the NHS hero’s, Ambulance Service; and Fire and Rescue Service. Additionally, potentially exposing teams and staff to the Corona Virus.
Our team really appreciate that it’s tempting to visit the coast. We all absolutely love the coast too. But please, this weekend, stretch your legs local to where you live, don’t stretch the RNLI and Coastguard resources and don’t travel to the coast. To quote the Coastguard “It’s not a holiday, it’s a national emergency”.
Gareth Morrison (Head of RNLI Water Safety) said: “We know that people who live at the coast still want to exercise by the sea, but when you do this, please think of the potential impact of your actions on RNLI Lifeboat crew volunteers and other emergency services. While you could be fully competent and never needed to be rescued, by going out on the water you could encourage others who are less proficient to take part in similar activities”.
“Since the government lockdown was introduced around the UK Coast, our lifeboat have been called out all too often to rescue people. So, if you do go out for a walk or a run at the coast, please follow the RNLI Safety Advice”:
Take care near cliff’s – know your route and your limitations
2. Check the weather forecast and the tide times
3. If you fall into the water unexpectedly FLOAT TO LIVE, fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend back, extend your arms and legs – FLOAT
4. In a coastal emergency dial ‘999’ ask for the Coastguard
Gareth added “Our lifeboat crews are still at the ready 24/7 – thanks to their own courage in a time of crisis and the generoristy of our supporters”.
How to support RNLI crews during COVID-19
If people are compelled to show their support from home, we ask them to help by giving something that keeps our volunteers ready to launch, replace worn-out kit or helps us repair a lifeboat. To support our lifesavers go to the RNLI donation page
No lifeguard patrols this weekend
There will be no lifeguard patrols at any beaches this weekend as the planned roll-out of beach lifeguard patrols was postponed until further notice following government advice to stay at home to save lives and protect the NHS.
Thank you for taking the time to read our blog. From all of the team we wish you a safe Easter weekend!
Broadstairs Surf Life Saving Club (BSLSC) was founded in 2013 and is affiliated with the national organisation Surf Life Saving GB a charity of over 5,000 volunteers helping to make our beaches a safer and a more enjoyable place for everyone.
Regular Training Sessions
The club holds regular immersive training sessions on Viking Bay and other Thanet beaches. Pool sessions are also held during the winter months at local leisure centre’s. Why not check out the clubs training calendar to find out their next training night.
The club is all about learning and maintaining lifesaving skills and enjoying regular land and water based training on Thanet’s beautiful beaches and in the sea around the coastline. The club provides great opportunities to stay fit, meet new friends, compete in competitions, learn new lifesaving skills and also allow you to put something back into the community.
New Members Welcome!
New members from experienced lifeguards to complete beginners are very welcome and the club offers fitness and lifeguard skills training to a wide age range. The club is very friendly and has some of the most experienced and qualified instructors in the area.
Training in partnership with RNLI Lifeguard’s
The club provide’s lifeguard training in partnership with Surf Life Saving GB and also working closely with the Thanet RNLI Lifeguard Unit. They also aim to provide both aquatic and first aid support to the local community.
The club’s mission statement
To offer club members the opportunity to keep fit through Life Saving Sport, increasing skill levels and equipping members to deal with emergency situations
Offer enjoyable training and education to club members in surf lifesaving skills with links to nationally recognised awards and qualifications which can help lead to a occupation in lifeguarding.
National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ)
From time to time the club runs the National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ). The course is designed to provide the learner with an introduction to all elements of beach lifeguard theory, cardiopulmonary resucitation (CPR), first aid, pool and open water skills.
The course is physically demanding and requires swimming to set times and lifting casualities in simulated rescue scenairo’s. The NVBLQ comprises a variety of units and all must be successfully passed to attain the qualification.
Be 16 on the assessment day.
Be able to swim a measured distance of 200 metres in a pool of recommended length 25 metres, minimum 20 metres, within 5 minutes.
On enrolment, the candidate must be able to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the Trainer, that by the end of the course they will be capable of achieving a swim time of 400m in under 8 minutes.
Units to be covered:
Basic Life Support
Pool Based Practical
Foundation Tube Rescuer
Foundation Ocean Board Rescuer
When the club runs it’s NVBLQ course, the timetable will usually run daily between 8am – 6pm (subject to change). The course will involve a mixutre of training in the sea, beach, pool and classroom.
Each candidate will receive further joining instructions and information once allocated a space on a course. Previous courses have been advertised via the club’s social media platforms and booking can be completed via Eventbrite. Successful com[pletion of the NVBLQ does not guarantee paid work with the RNLI Beach Lifeguard service, but it is one of the required qualifications to then be able to apply for a role within the RNLI. For more information on the next course drop the club an email: email@example.com
We would like to wish all members of the Broadstairs Lifesaving Club all the best for the forthcoming season of training, competitions and lifeguard courses and we hope to see you on the beach in the near future.
Sadly each year UK residents taking their holiday abroad die through drowning, mainly adults and children. The Safer Tourism Foundation in 2018 (charity dedicated to preventing accidents, injury and illness for holiday makers travelling abroad) indicated that more than 25 people have drowned in holiday pools in the last two years).
The Royal Lifesaving Society have indicated that 700 people die each year through drowning in the UK and Republic of Ireland and many more suffer injury, some life-changing, through non-fatal drowning experiences. More people die from drowning in the UK and Ireland than from domestic fires or cycling accidents.
Having some knowledge of how to stay safe in and around water and an appreciation of the hazards, can help to significantly reduce the number of deaths each year and increase enjoyment.
The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) have come up with these 11 Water Safety Holiday Top Tips:
1. When researching your holiday, or arriving at the destination if you haven’t yet done so, check the safety arrangements of any water-based activities and if there is lifeguard cover at the pool/beach
2. Check bathing sites for hazards, check the safest places to swim and always read the signs – find out what local warning signs and flags mean
3. Make sure the whole family can swim. Swim with any children in your care – it’s more fun and you can keep them close and safe
4. Never swim alone and follow the pool rules
5. Take time to check the depth, water flow and layout of pools
6. Never enter the water after drinking alcohol
7. On beaches check when the tide will be high and low and make sure that you won’t be cut off from the beach exit by the rising tide. Also be aware of dangerous rip-currents
9. Do not swim near to or dive from rocks, piers, breakwater or coral
10. Swim parallel to the beach and close to the shore
11. Wear a lifejacket or personal floatation device and any other safety equipment if you are taking part in any water related activity. However benigh the conditions always consider that they may change quickly without warning.
Have a fabulous, but safe holiday wherever you decide to go. Bon voyage!
Members of the Thanet RNLI Community Safety Team deployed to Dumpton Gap on Sunday (12th January 2020) to chat to dog walkers and beach users about coastal safety as part of their proactive Incident Prevention Engagement (IPE) tactic.
As the team were enjoying chatting to beach visitors at Dumpton Gap they became aware of four people who were embarking on a walk around the headland towards Ramsgate. With an incoming high tide, a strong wind and rough sea state the people were rapidly approached by team members and advised them against walking this route and to take a safe one along the cliff top. All four people heeded the advice and took the alternative route to Ramsgate. Andy Mills – Thanet RNLI Community Safety Officer said “it was a significantly high tide on Sunday morning at Dumpton Gap. Fortunately these beach visitors took on board our advice. We would urge everyone to check the weather and tides before heading out for a coastal walk and to carry a fully charged ‘calling for help’ device such as a mobile phone”.
We would like to thank all the dog walkers, runners and beach visitors who stopped by to chat and learn how to have an enjoyable, but safe time at the coast.
If you hear or see an animal or person in difficulty in the water call ‘999’ and ask for the Coastguard straight away every second counts!
The Park Run community is without doubt one of the friendliest and vibrant community running groups that helps people of all abilities to get out out on a Saturday morning to enjoy some fitness. On Saturday (2nd November) our team were very lucky to be able to pop down to The Pegwell Bay Park Run and hold a Water Safety Pop-Up stand.
The overall objective of the Pop-Up stand was to help support and share the Royal Lifesaving Societies (RLSS) ‘Runners and Walkers’ Water Safety campaign week which starts on Monday 4th November and runs through until 8th November.
RLSS indicate that tragically over 300 people unnecessarily lost their lives to drowning in the UK whilst running or walking by the water between 2012–2016. Each year on average over 60 people a year lose their life to drowning as a result of Running or Walking near water. Taking a few safety precautions and having a plan should things go wrong is definitely worthwhile. Just taking your mobile phone with you and telling someone your route could help in an emergency.
It was fabulous to chat to the Park Runners who were all very engaging and interested in improving their water safety and overall drowning prevention knowledge. We would like to thank the Pegwell Bay Park Run Team for allowing us to attend their fabulous Saturday morning event and chat to runners, supporters and volunteers. Well done to all the runners for such a great effort on this blustery morning. We were very fortunate with the weather and that the rain held off until we had packed away.
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