19th December 2018. Anyone who was in the vicinity of Hengistbury Head a few days ago was treated to a demonstration of how the NCI can play a major role in assisting our local Search and Rescue partners.

Early in the afternoon, HM Coastguard Search and Rescue Flight 175 contacted NCI Hengistbury Head to ask if it would be ok to drop in as part of an exercise and the work up of their new aircraft. Excitement mounted as discussions took place and advice was sought from the Watchkeepers as to where exactly they could land and where to set up the exclusion zone in order to keep the public safe. Half an hour later Rescue 175 landed and dropped off ‘Dead Fred’ as the dummy casualty is called, before taking to the air again. Some 20 minutes later, and with an expectant crowd now gathered, Rescue 175 approached from the east. With the assistance of NCI Watchkeepers and trainees, Dead Fred was placed onto a stretcher and successfully winched back up into the helicopter, simulating a casualty evacuation. Shortly afterwards Rescue 175 radioed Hengistbury Head NCI to thank for their assistance. Whilst at the Hengistbury Head watch station, the HMCG crew gave advice on equipment that could be usefully stored at the Lookout to make future operations safer for both us and them. Ear defenders and hard hats have already been procured and an instruction sheetfor Watchkeepers has been produced.

It was, of course, all very exciting for those on watch (and those watching) and an honour to have Rescue 175 pay a visit and rely on the Watchkeepers advice. More importantly, it was a excellent training session for all involved and is another step in cementing a strong working relationship with the local Search and Rescue partners.


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Currently 56 NCI stations are operational and manned by over 2600 volunteers keeping watch around the British Isles from Fleetwood in the North West, through Wales, to the South and East of England to Hornsea in the East Riding of Yorkshire. 

NCI watchkeepers provide the eyes and ears along the coast, monitoring radio channels and providing a listening watch in poor visibility. They are trained to deal with emergencies offering a variety of skills and experience, and full training by the NCI ensures that high standards are met.








The words National Coastwatch Institution and Eyes Along the Coast and the NCI logos are Registered Trademarks of NCI.


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