June 21, 2005
Brean Down cliff rescue rehearsed by Coastguard and hovercraft teams

Burnham’s Coastguard and hovercraft crews have rehearsed a dramatic cliff rescue at Brean Down as they gear up for another busy summer season of life saving along Somerset’s coastline.

Using radio receivers, the hovercraft crew guide the Coastguard cliff rescue team to the 'casualty'The teams were put through their paces on the south side of the Down this week – the scene of many real-life rescues in recent years.

Due to the steepness of the cliffs, it is often difficult for the Coastguard’s Cliff Rescue Team to see casualties who have fallen into the ravines below.

Therefore, the crew onboard the Spirit Of Lelaina hovercraft play a vital role in locating casualties on the cliffs from the mud below and guiding the cliff rescuers down over the rough terrain to their target using radio communication.

In this exercise, the crew directed the Coastguard’s climber Stuart Browning down the steep cliffs to the casualty at the foot of the cliffs before he made the ascent back up again.

The two-hour exercise, involving 25 crewmembers from the Coastguard and hovercraft teams, comes at the start of the busy summer tourist season when many holidaymakers visit Brean Down and foolishly clamber over the steep cliffs.

“We would advise people to stay well away from the edge,” said Robin Hewlett, Burnham Coastguard deputy station officer. “The crumbling, slippy surface makes it incredibly dangerous.”

He added that the exercise had been a success and had fully tested the two rescue teams. “This exercise required a wide range of skills from both the hovercraft and Coastguard teams, who worked closely together to carry out a difficult rescue.”

Alan Miller, chairman of the BARB hovercraft group, added: “This event once again showed how Burnham’s emergency services work together in a highly professional and co-ordinated manner. It was very impressive.”

The 'casualty' is taken up the steep cliffs of Brean Down
Stuart Browning of the Cliff Rescue Team

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