Volunteer members of Stornoway and Miavaig Coastguard Rescue Teams were in the water of Stornoway harbour last night (Tuesday 11 February) while most people were keeping warm during icy winds and hailstorms.

The 16 individuals, under supervision from area commander Murdo Macaulay, were carrying out revalidation training in water rescue skills with co-operation from Stornoway Port Authority.

Murdo said: “We need to ensure that our volunteers’ water rescue skills are regularly refreshed and tested to keep their tickets up to date. Last night we decided that, rather than the daylight and good weather we normally have for revalidation tests, it would be good to get them out in the dark and the wet to test their skills.

“The tests included throw-lines, swimmer rescue and casualty and stretcher-handling in the water, as well as bankside safety and ways of getting multiple casualties ashore using a system similar to the old breeches buoy rescue system. This could be essential in situations where the lifeboat is unable to gain access because a casualty vessel is close to shore or when we arrive first.

“Lighting the scene was also crucial. In every rescue scenario, once you’ve got eyes on you never take your eyes off the casualty, so lighting the scene is a skill everyone must have.”

Of the conditions on the night, Murdo said: “It was a bit cold, but everyone did really well and they were still smiling at the end of it.”

Picture shows a rope rescue in the water at Stornoway harbour (HM Coastguard Western Isles, Skye and Lochaber).