Major rescue reshuffle fear

The Riverdance rescue was a big challenge, said Fylde coast coastguard spokesman Chris Jameson.
The Riverdance rescue was a big challenge, said Fylde coast coastguard spokesman Chris Jameson.
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A PRESSURE group has hit out at plans to centralise the Coastguard’s operations and claims resources for major rescues will be limited.

Coastguard SOS, which is fighting to keep the country’s rescue stations open, has reacted with concern to the Government’s response to a Transport Select Committee inquiry.

RNLI crews in Blackpool launched more times than anywhere else in the north west last year, conducting 92 operations and pulling 23 people from the water.

The SOS group claims plans to centralise operations at a base in Hampshire and close Liverpool Coastguard station – the base for all Fylde coast rescues – by 2015 would hinder call outs.

Chris Jameson, Fylde coast spokesman for Coastguard SOS, says crews would struggle to co-ordinate a rescue similar to the Riverdance incident in January 2008, if there was a problem at the Hampshire base.

He said: “Liverpool are extremely understaffed by about 20 per cent.

“If you look at the Fylde coast and the Riverdance, that was a major incident by anyone’s standard.

“It was described as being one of the most challenging rescues of any modern day ship at the time because the wind was horrendous and creating 10 metre high waves.

“If Riverdance was to happen again, and there was a fire in Hampshire, I would be seriously doubting a successful operation.”

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