Fireman recalls Loch Awe rescue confusion

image captionThe men fell into the water as their boat crossed the loch in thick fog

A fireman called to a boating accident that left four men dead has said emergency services need to "put their heads together" to avoid confusion at similar incidents in the future.

Watch Commander Garry MacPherson told a fatal accident inquiry he could hear the fishermen shouting for help.

But he said rescuers were unsure of the equipment or capabilities of other emergency services at the scene.

The men drowned after falling into Loch Awe in Argyll.

They were Craig Currie, 30, William Carty, 47, Mr Carty's brother Stephen, 42, and friend Thomas Douglas, 36.

The men, all from Glasgow, fell into the water as their boat returned in fog across the loch from a trip to the Tight Line pub in March 2009.

The inquiry has previously heard emergency crews could only stand at the shore line because no boat was available to go out into the water.

Mr MacPherson, 34, told the hearing he had attended a de-briefing after the incident to work out how the emergency services could have improved their performance that night.

He said: "I think we could have put heads together so that everyone knew what everyone's capabilities were at that incident, rather than just assume."

Strathclyde Fire and Rescue failed to tell the coastguard that a rescue boat was on its way to the scene from its base in Renfrew, almost 70 miles away.

And he and his colleagues felt that other emergency services "stood back" and failed to offer help or equipment.

He said that two meetings had been held since the deaths occurred to try and improve cross-agency understanding.

But Mr MacPherson said he still does not know what resources other emergency services have as the information has not been passed to him.

Later, the inquiry was told that the Zodiac rescue boat which was dispatched from Renfrew had no lights, no global positioning system and no sonar.

The only illumination was provided by a fellow crew member who was "holding a large torch."

The inquiry, before Sheriff Douglas Small, continues.

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