St John Inshore Rescue Boats are back in operation following the completion of a review of this area of service provision.
The service’s two inshore rescue boats were temporarily withdrawn from service while routine maintenance work was carried out. Both vessels were sent to the UK for structural modifications and have had new submersible engines fitted.
During this time St John took the opportunity to review the operation as a whole following the move to the full voluntary provision of inshore rescue last year.
In May the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) carried out an annual inspection, once again approving St John Inshore Rescue as an RYA accredited training centre.
The volunteer crews have been training hard during the last few months completing sea survival training, first aid at sea training and VHF marine radio communications courses. In March, six senior members of the team also underwent training with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution to become Helms’ of the Inshore Rescue Boats following which they were assessed by Guernsey Coastguard as competent to carry out rescues.
As part of the review, training and competency frameworks have been revised and the Memorandum of Understanding between the St John Ambulance & Rescue Service and Guernsey Coastguard for the provision of inshore rescue for Search & Rescue (SAR) purposes has been updated.
Jon Beausire, chief officer of St John Ambulance and Rescue Service, said: “I am pleased to confirm that the St John Inshore Rescue boats have been refitted and the volunteer crews have completed their extended training course to the satisfaction of Guernsey Coastguard. They are now able to resume the valuable service they provide to the Bailiwick of Guernsey.
“My thanks go to the volunteer crews who have given so much of their own time during this intense period of upgrading and training and to the RNLI St Peter Port Lifeboat which has provided cover while the St John Inshore Rescue boats were temporarily off-call during the early part of this year.
“The St John Ambulance and Rescue Service has provided Guernsey’s Inshore Rescue Boats for over 50 years. Over the past 18 months it has recruited expert volunteers from the community, to resource this service. The time and effort that each volunteer puts into assisting St John is much appreciated.”
Using volunteers to crew the inshore rescue boats has enabled St John to tap into expertise outside the Service from people who had previous marine experience and qualifications, and to free up ambulance staff to concentrate on their primary role and meet the increase in demand for emergency ambulance work. These ‘expert’ volunteers worked through the competencies associated with their rescue area prior to becoming full rescue team members in 2014.
“As the St John rescue activities are solely funded by public donations it is important that these funds are used in the most cost effective way and using volunteers rather than employees supports this principle and provides additional value for money,” said Mr Beausire.
19 volunteers, five of which are employees of SJARS, undertake this role.
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Le Ray.