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Further JESCC training would improve Search and Rescue missions

Further JESCC training would improve Search and Rescue missions

Monday 11 February 2019

Further JESCC training would improve Search and Rescue missions

JESCC operators should be given further training to ensure that search and rescue operations are dealt with as quickly and effectively as possible, according to a review of the Guernsey and Alderney Coastguards.

A peer review of the Coastguard service has been carried out by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to highlight gaps in the service and recommend improvements that can be made to the Bailiwick's national and international search and rescue operations.

It said the current arrangements, including the operation of the Joint Emergency Services Control Centre, are fit for purpose, but that improvements could be made. 

Guernsey’s Harbourmaster Captain David Barker said: 

“It is always useful to get an expert outside opinion on our coastguard organisations. This report should give those who use our waters confidence that we can provide effective search and rescue services should they need it. The Bailiwick is lucky to be well served by a range of sea, land, and air assets available for search and rescue operations when the need arises. Volunteers operate most of these and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for their professionalism and dedication. We have already put in place a training and quality improvement plan for our JESCC operators, as recommended in the report, and we will be closely monitoring the results over the coming months.” 

harbour master harbourmaster David barker

Pictured: Guernsey’s Harbourmaster Captain David Barker.

The MCA commended the Coastguard for the following: 

  • The Bailiwick emergency services are respected and trusted by the community and are proactive in sending out proactive safety messages. 
  • Good use of volunteer services and additional facilities when conducting search and rescue operations.

  • Guernsey and Alderney recognise their international responsibilities regarding the provision of SAR and have implemented an efficient and successful system to provide these services. 
  • The use of a joint control centre for all emergency services ensured that distress calls are communicated in a timely and efficient way

The peer review concluded that there was room for improvement in the following areas:

  • The time spent by JESCC operators undertaking the coastguard function should be recorded to mitigate the risk of a drop in performance levels. 
  • JESCC operators could have basic rapid response search plan creation included in their training, leaving the more protracted and complicated search planning to the specialist mission coordinators. 
  • All qualified officers revalidate their qualification every five years.
  • Headset watched could be considered for monitoring VHF radio transmissions within JESCC to lessen the likelihood of missed communications. At present, listening watches are done so by way of a loud speaker watch on the international distress frequency. There is a potential for communications to be missed during times of high workload when noise levels in the room are increased. 

Captain Barker said the points raised in the review would be taken on board and that independent professional scrutiny was welcomed. 

“We will be inviting the agency to come again in 2019, as part of our commitment to continually assess the effectiveness of our search and rescue organisation. I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of the professional members of our coastguard organisation, both within Guernsey Harbours and at JESCC, whose focus, like my own, is on saving lives at sea.”

Pictured top: Spirit of Guernsey lifeboat (Credit: Tony Rive) and image of the Joint Emergency Services Control Centre.

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