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Moray Inshore Rescue Service calls for the public to take care when at the seaside after 25 call-outs in 2020

By Garry McCartney

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Senior coxswain Simon Paterson, Lord Lieutenant of Moray, Major General Seymour Monro, MIRO secretary Keith Parker, crew member Steve Leslie and MIRO chairman John Low.
Senior coxswain Simon Paterson, Lord Lieutenant of Moray, Major General Seymour Monro, MIRO secretary Keith Parker, crew member Steve Leslie and MIRO chairman John Low.

LIFESAVING volunteers are calling for help from the community after responding to their first call- out of the year.

After a call-out from the coastguard on January 27, Moray Inshore Rescue Organisation (MIRO) arrived at Nairn harbour from Findhorn within 15 minutes to attend a man who had driven his car over the edge.

MIRO operations manager, Peter Mackenzie, confirmed the team have a maximum 20-minute launch requirement so the crew need to be in Findhorn in sufficient time.

He said: “When lives are in danger, every second counts. We are fortunate to have several crew members who live in Findhorn and are able to arrive the marina within five minutes of being alerted by the coastguard and we regularly launch within 10 minutes of being paged. Shore support are trained to start the boat while the crew are getting changed. Our overall response time has improved since our new rescue boat came into service in 2020.”

MIRO had a record 25 call-outs in 2020, the majority of which were after lockdown restrictions on water sports were relaxed in May. Incidents included boats in difficulty; injured, trapped and missing people; and pets struggling in the water.

Mr Mackenzie said: “The number of visitors to Findhorn was significant and the height of the summer was incredibly busy. Nairn, Burghead, Hopeman and Lossiemouth were also reported to be very busy so more people needed assistance. We responded to a record number of call-outs, 20 of which were between May 30 and September 15. Approximately 10 were to the east of Findhorn and a similar number to the west.”

With restrictions on travel abroad likely to be in place throughout the summer, once the current lockdown is lifted MIRO anticipate more unprecedented numbers of visitors so are asking everyone to take care.

“Currents and tides strength and speed can often take people by surprise,” said Mr Mackenzie. “Even experienced swimmers, surfers, paddle boarders and sailors can get caught out. It’s a good idea to have a means of calling for help if anyone gets into difficulty so we recommend carrying a fully-charged mobile phone. Always let people know when you’ll be back home and don’t be tempted to take a risky photo by a cliff edge or large waves. If your pet gets into danger, do not attempt to self-rescue it. Call 999 Coastguard.”

In the summer months, many hours of rescue time are spent searching for people reported missing at sea when an inflatable has been spotted.

Mr Mackenzie said: “We would ask that beach-goers take especial care if using inflatable’s. Blow-up toys and airbeds can easily be swept out.”

MIRO number 14 boat crew members, eight shore support volunteers and six directors. Shore support launch and recover and carry out weekly maintenance of MIRO’s boats, tractor and headquarters. The directors have legal responsibility for the organisation.

Mr Mackenzie finished: “The continual need to raise funds is an ongoing challenge. Whilst our expenditure including fuel has increased, our fundraising has reduced due to Covid restrictions.”

Anyone shopping on Amazon can raise funds for MIRO by using Amazon Smile and selecting Moray Inshore Rescue Organisation as the charity to benefit from donations. People can also donate online by logging on to Virgin Money Giving and searching for MIRO.

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