West­ern Isles Coast­guard crew hon­oured

Pilot - - ROTOR HEADS -

On 12 June HM Coast­guard’s West­ern Isles SAR he­li­copter team cel­e­brated more than three decades of lifesaving ser­vice with a spe­cial event at its newly ren­o­vated Stornoway base, and was pre­sented with the Depart­ment for Trans­port’s Res­cue Shield Award for its work in two res­cues.

In June 2018 the Stornoway-based crew saved an elderly man who was cling­ing to a cliff edge on the re­mote is­land of St Kilda, hav­ing slipped and fallen some thirty hours pre­vi­ously. When the SAR Siko­rsky S-92A ar­rived the man was in an ex­tremely pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion with a sheer 200ft drop be­low him. Winch­ing him up wasn’t an op­tion, as the down­draft could have proved fa­tal, and the man was very weak, but Coast­guard rope tech­ni­cians were able to bring him to safety.

Ear­lier, in May, the team res­cued a young man who had be­come stranded at the base of the sheer cliffs at Fetha­land, on the northern tip of Shet­land. He was perched on rocks, in dark, squally and de­te­ri­o­rat­ing weather con­di­tions. An SAR spe­cial­ist rope tech­ni­cian de­scended eighty feet into the dark, while be­ing bat­tered by strong winds and in­com­ing waves, and man­aged to save him.

Pre­sent­ing the tro­phy, Richard Parkes, Di­rec­tor of HM Coast­guard, said: “I am im­mensely proud that HM Coast­guard has been en­trusted to pro­vide the search and res­cue he­li­copter ser­vice from Stornoway for over thirty years. In that time, the ser­vice has made a vi­tal dif­fer­ence to so many lives, but not one team could do it on their own. That’s why it has given me great plea­sure to have also been able to present the Res­cue Shield Award, for joint ef­forts of the he­li­copter crews, op­er­a­tions staff and coast­guard res­cue teams on both Stornoway and Shet­land to high­light the ded­i­ca­tion, commitment and ex­treme brav­ery that is demon­strated by them to over­come the most chal­leng­ing of sit­u­a­tions.”

The Swiss he­li­copter is be­ing tested in Si­cily's hot, hu­mid sea air

HM Coast­guard Stornoway S-92A

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