June 5, 2005
New searchlights will help Burnham hovercraft find casualties at night
Burnham-On-Sea’s hovercraft will soon go on service 24 hours a day after modifications were made to the craft to help it perform rescues at night.
Special searchlights have been fitted to the rear of the Spirit Of Lelaina to allow crewmembers to illuminate the mud around them during night-time incidents.
The super-strength lights will help crewmembers quickly locate casualties in the mud and also navigate around obstacles, such as wooden stakes and deep gullies, which can hamper the hovercraft’s flight.
To test the effectiveness of the new lights, a night-time exercise was held on Burnham-On-Sea beach in the early hours of Saturday (June 4th).
During two flights along the coastline, crewmembers performed a series of manoeuvres to rehearse how the lights would be used during a real incident. With driving rain and gusty wind, the conditions fully tested the crew and the hovercraft.
BARB, the group that runs the hovercraft, now intends to introduce its round-the-clock operations in time for the start of the main summer holiday season.
Mark Newman, Press and Publicity Manager for BARB, said: “The successful installation of the craft’s lights means the start of our 24-hour operations has come a step closer.”
“The lights performed very well and operated just as we’d hoped. They will be invaluable during night-time incidents – helping us to quickly find casualties, light up incident scenes and get out to the mud as quickly as possible.”
Burnham’s hovercraft is currently on-call during daylight hours only, although it did perform an urgent night-time rescue on April 25th at Weston-super-Mare, helping a man trapped in mud 500 metres off the end of the town’s pier.