New boats will aid future flood rescue work in Morecambe Bay
Morecambe Bay's voluntary flood rescue team has added two brand new boats to its fleet of vehicles thanks to a Â£10,000 lottery grant.
The boats now mean Bay Search & Rescue are Defra accredited, and replace two older boats now past their best.
Paul Calland, 52, the charity’s deputy station officer and water incident manager, said the two new boats would be very effective for flood rescue, work well in confined spaces, and have engines that are “very quick off the mark”.
Paul said: “We used to have one small rescue boat and our larger official one, but the small one would go down which is not ideal.
“You could certainly say that the December and January floods stretched us a little bit.
“No-one could have imagined that was going to happen.
“Events like that used to be one in 100 years but they seem to be coming a bit more regularly.
“Whichever way you look at it the climate is changing and we need to adapt to that.”
Bay Search and Rescue, which has 22 operational members, and 100 volunteers in total, have bases in Bolton-le-Sands, Arnside, Milnthorpe and Flookborough.
On average they get around 50 call outs a year, but in December they had 41 incidents to deal with covering areas between Lancaster, Kendal, Carlisle and Appleby.
Paul, who used to work for the Ministry of Defence designing tanks and other vehicles, said: “We were set up in 1999 as a little quick sand rescue team, and then we started with hovercraft rescue to help out on the bay.
“We’re a flood rescue team first and foremost, but we’ve since developed to use the track vehicles and we do wildfire support up in the mountains, and hilltops across Lancashire.
“We work in heavy snow as well, as our track vehicles are also snowmobiles.
“We assisted with 74 cars in one night in Carlisle in 2013.”
The Bay Search and Rescue fleet also includes an airboat for some of its rescue work.
Paul added: “The boats are normally used for surf rescue so they’ll be very effective for flood rescue, which tends to be very aggressive water.
“They’re quite small, and very good in confined spaces.
“The engines are very quick off the mark, which is exactly what we need.
“We’re becoming quite a specialist team, and we managed to fund the boats with the Big Lottery grant and funding from our reserves.”
Bay Search and Rescue provides services to HM Coastguard, North West Ambulance Service, Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service, Cumbria Police, Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service and Lancashire Police, via joint partnership agreements.