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Emergencies and Channel 16

By Val Ellis last modified Feb 28, 2009 06:23 PM

Published: 2009-02-28 18:23:56
Countries: United Kingdom

Injured sailor's life endangered by "chatting on Channel 16"

A seriously injured yachtsman's life was further endangered during a rescue operation near the Isle of Wight last weekend because of other sailors ignoring the Mayday Silence during the rescue attempt.

Mike Greiner, Duty Watch Manager at Solent Coastguard said that the Coastguard had had to interject with the internationally recognised Mayday Silence signal at various times to stop sailors from chatting on the emergency radio channel, in order that broadcast silence be maintained.

He said that other yachts have a responsibility in such incidents by maintaining radio silence on VHF Channel 16 or 67 during the rescue operation in order for the Coastguard to listen to or offer advice to the helicopter crew.

The injured bowman was seriously hurt when the spinnaker pole dropped onto his head aboard the Bavaria 46 yacht Shabeen while sailing off the Isle of Wight.

At just before 1500 on the afternoon of Saturday, 21 February, Solent Coastguard were alerted to the incident onboard the yacht Shabeen sailing southeast of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. The yacht was under power at eight knots and the crew were taking the sails in when the incident happened, giving the 56 year old foredeck hand a serious head injury.

When the crew reported, they described his condition as serious, and he was suffering a significant loss of blood.

The Coastguard Helicopter Rescue 104 based at Lee on Solent was scrambled, and the Bembridge RNLI lifeboat was also requested to launch. The helicopter arrived above the vessel in just a few minutes, and the crew decided to affect a high line rescue of the wounded man. He would then be taken to the Lordshill landing site in Southampton before onward transmission by ambulance to the General Hospital.

Simon O'Mahony, winchman onboard the rescue helicopter described the crew of the Shabeen as very competent when dealing with their seriously injured colleague.

He said: 'All yachtsmen and women hope accidents won't happen to them or to anyone else on their boat, but when it does, confidence in the medical procedures prepared in advance onboard are essential. The crew had clearly thought about their responsibilities and their ability to help my helicopter crew and me prepare the casualty for airlift off the vessel in the quickest and safest possible manner.'

By 1600 the injured man was onboard the helicopter bound for the landing site, whilst his yacht and crew made for Gosport. The sailor was then flown to the Lordshill landing site in Southampton where a waiting ambulance took him to Southampton General Hospital.

by Blackwattle Studios roundup.
Tue, 24 Feb 2009

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