Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Gannet fliers are the busiest rescuers - again

THE busiest didn’t get busier – but it is still the busiest.
No Search and Rescue unit in the UK – civilian or military – was called out more times in 2010 than HMS Gannet, the fourth year in a row that the Prestwick-based Fleet Air Arm unit was the busiest in the land.
Last year actually saw a drop in scrambles for Gannet’s Sea Kings – the helicopters received 379 call-outs, down 68 on 2009 (which was a record year).
But Gannet – which provides emergency cover across an area of 98,000 square miles (12 times the size of Wales...) spanning Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and Lake District – was still the most in-demand SAR centre, accounting for a fifth of all the rescues carried out by the eight RAF/RN units dedicated to Search and Rescue.
In all 324 people were saved/assisted by Gannet crews in 2010: 145 of the helicopters’ missions last year were medical rescues, a further 80 were medical transfers.

“Once again these high figures reflect the nature of the vast – and sometimes harsh – area covered by Gannet,” said CO Lt Cdr Debdash Bhattacharya.
“I’m extremely proud of the men and women you make up not only our aircrew, but also our ground staff – military and civilian – who work tirelessly to ensure that we’re ready to fly at a moment’s notice to save lives.”
Among Gannet’s notable missions last year were:
  • a climber rescued from Ben Lomond; her fellow climber carved a six-foot-high SOS in the snow and drew a huge arrow to help the fliers find her
  • premature twins flown from Stornaway to Glasgow for expert medical care in an eight-hour sortie
  • two divers plucked out of strong currents near the Mull of Galloway – despite thick rolling fog.
  • four walkers rescued in the Lake District on the same day having been struck by lightning
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