Devon

Veteran Devon coastguards quit in beach rescue health and safety row

Croyde Image copyright ianwool/Getty
Image caption The officer in charge of Croyde Coastguard Rescue team quit after 32 years in the role

Two veteran volunteer coastguards have resigned after they say they were reprimanded for taking a teenager to hospital in a van instead of an ambulance.

The officer in charge (OIC) of Croyde Coastguard Rescue Team, in Devon, said he quit after being told he would have to start his training again.

He said a female colleague with 18 years' experience also resigned.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) confirmed the two resignations.

However, it said there would be no reduction in the quality of service in the area.

'Gone mad'

The Croyde OIC, who does not want to be named, told the BBC he had 32 years' experience - the last 10 being in charge of the team in North Devon, but was told he would lose his OIC status.

He said he had seen "so many changes" since he started, but health and safety regulations had "gone absolutely [mad]".

The former coastguard said on Sunday 23 June at 01:00 BST his team was called to help an 18-year-old man who had drunk too much and was unconscious, cold and wet in the sand dunes.

They found him and together with a paramedic put him on a stretcher to wait for an ambulance.

"We had a couple of ambulances on route but they were diverted," he said, adding that the paramedic said it could be two hours before an ambulance was available.

Image copyright Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Image caption The former coastguard said he acted in the best interests of the casualty

He said they put the young man in the back of his van with the paramedic and drove to hospital.

He was reprimanded the next day and told he would have to go back through the training process, he said.

The former coastguard said he accepted he did not follow the guidelines, but had acted in the best interests of the casualty.

'Rolling around'

He said the rule he broke was using coastguard equipment - the stretcher - in a private vehicle.

"If I had taken him off the stretcher I might have had a lesser telling off but he would have been rolling around in the back of my van," he added.

He said he did not blame his bosses and added that coastguard services were under pressure due to budget cuts.

In a statement the MCA confirmed the resignations, but said it would be inappropriate to comment further.

Earlier this week it emerged two South Devon coastguards were sacked for pulling a runaway car back from the top of a cliff.

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