Coastguards invest in search and rescue skills

Coastguards from across the UK have been on the very first course to build extra expertise in search and rescue incidents involving high risk missing people.

The Coastguard Search Adviser (CGSA) course, held at the Police National Search Centre at the College of Policing, was led by police and coastguards with students being taught how to put collaborative search responses into action. The Coastguard Search Adviser is, ‘Authorised and accountable for the leading, planning & management of the Reflex Search plan and protracted search incidents, briefing of Search Team Leaders and liaison with Police Search Adviser POLSA, Coastguard SAR Mission Co-ordinator (SMC) and other responsible representatives from partner Search & Rescue organisations’.

Nine coastguards from Her Majesty’s Coastguard attended the five-day course. This is part of a three-year upskilling programme to enhance HM Coastguard’s Lost & Missing Persons Search (L&MPS) capability. By the end of the programme, 3500 Coastguard Rescue Officers will have met the ‘Search Technician’ standard, L&MPS trained Team Leaders will be embedded in HM Coastguard’s 350 Coastguard Rescue Teams and all full time ‘on call’ duty Coastal Officers will be qualified as Coastguard Search Advisers. This will enable HM Coastguard to not only enhance the planning, leadership and delivery of its own searches, but to deploy, at the request of partner services (primarily UK police forces), trained and flexible search resources to assist in their missing person searches.

HM Coastguard is already evidencing the benefits of the programme with increased assurance levels as a result of enhanced team level search skills brought about through the creation of the L&MPS Search Technician qualification.

Paul Duffy, National Search Lead (L&MPS), HM Coastguard, said, “We know that our emergency services work incredibly well together in very difficult conditions to respond to incidents where people have gone missing. Time is of the essence in these situations and everything we can do to improve the expertise of coastguards and bring emergency services to work together can increase the chance of finding missing people.”