Holy Island rescuers gain pedal power

Holy Island Coastguard team members with their new mountain bikes.
Holy Island Coastguard team members with their new mountain bikes.

Holy Island Coastguard has become one of the first teams in the country to be issued with mountain bikes.

The new bikes will help improve response times when searching for a casualty in areas that would have usually have to be searched on foot.

Large areas of Holy Island are inaccessible with the team’s 4x4 vehicle, particularly to the north and west sides of the island.

Station officer Ryan Douglas said: “Currently, all our incident working and training at these locations has to be done on foot. Bikes will speed up the process of getting immediate attention to casualties. It will also offer us increased mobility in a variety of other operations. If there’s no access for vehicles, we will always find a way. Our colleagues in the Police, Fire and Ambulance Service in the cities have been using bikes for a number of years now and have seen great results with improved response times.”

The bikes are a bespoke design for HM Coastguard use. They are equipped with a rear rack and pannier to carry life saving equipment such a throw lines, lifejackets, first aid kits, maps and torches.

The team is undergoing mountain bike training, including visual and surface hazards, slow-speed handling, traffic law, bike maintenance and patrol procedure.

“By using bikes we will also be reducing the impact on natural environment compared with using a vehicle as the whole island is a nature reserve and is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,” said Ryan. “The bikes will be great for public relations, they’ll promote good health, set a positive example, are cost-effective and very enjoyable.”

If you think you see someone in trouble at sea or at the coast, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.