Nine new ‘graduates’ completed their training with the HM Coastguard on Sunday (April 28th) and are now ready for deployment from Coastguard Rescue Teams around the Western Isles, Skye and Lochaber.

Ellie Fletcher, Helga Brewe and Shaun Macleod will be joining CRTs in Stornoway, Bragar and Ness respectively, having completed a total of 70 hours dedicated training spread across four weekends.

They were training alongside other volunteers who will be deployed in Salen (Ardnamurchan), Kilchoan and in Griminish, Benbecula and Lochboisdale. All demonstrated what an MCA spokesman called “100% dedication” to the effort and travel needed to complete their induction to the Coastguard service.

A training weekend around the Stornoway area allowed them to practice and gain new skills in helicopter operations – including winching on and off the SAR helicopter – isolating dangerous objects and dealing with time-expired pyrotechnics, ordnance and live pyro-firing.

Senior coastal operations officer Ron Maclean told today (Tuesday April 30th): “We operate a continuous training schedule, with our next cohort expected to start training at the end of May. We are always looking for new recruits to the service, especially in the more rural areas of Lewis and Harris – we currently have a particular need for new members in Uig, Breasclete and in Leverburgh, where we hope to start a new team in the near future after a period when the district has been without a team.

“Having Coastguard Rescue Teams means we can get manpower quickly to assist police with searches, and we can quickly turn a search operation into a rescue operation if needed.

“For volunteers it’s a good way to help your community, especially if you live in a rural area and want to help people in your own district. Everyone in our teams is trained in casualty care, water rescue and search techniques and we also have rope rescue kit in Stornoway, Ness and Tarbert which teams are trained to use.”

The picture shows the latest group of trainees at Arnish on Sunday completing their training in helicopter operations. (HM Coastguard Western Isles, Skye and Lochaber).