Air Rescue Coordination Centre officer’s hat trick of rescues

UK ARCC Search and Rescue Coordinator and Duty Watch Manager, Flight Lieutenant Richard ‘Stino’ Stinson in off-duty dress, photographed at the incident site at Lossiemouth East Beach on the day after his rescue of three people from the sea. (Image Courtesy: Press and Journal Newspaper)

UK ARCC Search and Rescue Coordinator and Duty Watch Manager, Flight Lieutenant Richard Stinson. (Image Courtesy: Press and Journal Newspaper)

An off-duty walk with his wife and children on Lossiemouth’s East Beach turned into a genuine rescue incident for Flight Lieutenant Richard ‘Stino’ Stinson on Friday 11 July 2014.

Richard is no stranger to handling rescue incidents in his role as a Search and Rescue Coordinator and Duty Watch Manager in the UK Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) at Kinloss barracks, Moray. This time, he took a leading role in the rescue of three people after an 11 year old girl who was being swept out to sea by a riptide after swimming in the River Lossie.

Richard swam out to rescue the girl and made it back to shore just as RAF Lossiemouth’s Sea King helicopter arrived on scene. The RAF SAR helicopter’s winchman paramedic then checked the youngster’s medical condition before she was taken to Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin by ambulance to be treated for shock. Apart from this, Richard’s prompt action had ensured that she was otherwise safe and well.

But two other people who had tried to assist the girl also found themselves caught by the riptide, so Richard went back into the water and rescued both of them in turn. The second person he rescued was the woman who had been looking after the child. She attempted to reach the child but was caught in the same riptide. After rescuing her, Richard re-entered the water for a third time to rescue a board-surfer who also got into difficulties while trying to reach the young girl.

Richard spotted the unfolding drama while out for an off-duty walk on the beach with his wife, their five year old daughter and two year old son. Speaking about the rescue of the 11 year old girl, he said, “She had already been swept out about 50m into the sea and was obviously in a lot of trouble. The tide was taking her further and further from the beach. Although she was on her body-board, she kept slipping off. When I got to her, she was well out of her depth and had swallowed a lot of water. I managed to get her close enough to shore where I could stand up again, but even then, the tide made it hard work.”

Richard’s colleagues on duty in the ARCC at Kinloss had received a separate request of help from the police and coastguard. They responded by despatching Rescue 137 from nearby RAF Lossiemouth, unaware that one of their own was taking his own direct action.

“Coordinating rescues is my job, but this was a first for me to be actually involved,” Richard added.