Health checks halt coastguard team

A NEW regime of health checks for coastguards has meant that some Suffolk volunteers have had to give up their posts.

A NEW regime of health checks for coastguards has meant that some Suffolk volunteers have had to give up their posts.

The introduction of the checks has meant Aldeburgh's team of volunteers has been stood down after one member failed the medical and a further five need more tests.

These concerns mean Aldeburgh's team of eight is too short-staffed to operate and its area now has to be covered by Southwold coastguards - leaving cover of the north Suffolk coastline stretched.

A number of those who have been referred for further tests have high blood pressure, which is a condition that can be worsened by stress.


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Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer said: “This is pretty pointless if there isn't anyone left to rescue you. I would much rather be saved by someone, as long as they were able to rescue me, than by no one at all.

“I am very proud of the people who do this voluntary work and the fact that this is being made more difficult for them is very sad. They wouldn't do the job if they didn't think they were up to it.

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“I have got some serious concerns about what the point of the health checks is. I will ask for more information immediately.”

Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman Mark Clark said it was important that those involved in organising rescues were healthy.

He added: “They have to be in all senses fit for purpose. The job is strenuous, no doubt about that. It can be highly dangerous.

“We are asking people to put themselves in unpredictable circumstances to save someone and we don't want the rescuer to need help as well. If you are all hauling on a rope to get someone up a cliff you don't want someone to be keeling over.

“We are not questioning anyone's commitment. The police and fire services already do these tests and in a sense we are coming late to the game.”

Testing is still taking place in north Norfolk, Yarmouth and Lincolnshire coastguard areas. And with nearly three quarters of the region's 300 volunteers still to be checked, more teams may yet have to stand down if their members prove unfit.

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