Bay Search and Rescue trains Dublin Civil Defence in the use of Hagglund ATERV's (All Terrain Emergency Rescue Vehicles)

Published:  31 January, 2011

Gary Parsons, Station Officer and Paul Calland, Deputy Station Officer of Bay Search and Rescue based at Flookburgh and Milnthorpe (UK), have recently traveled over to Dublin, Ireland, at the invitation of Acting Chief Civil Defence Officer John Moriarty. The Cumbrian team was contacted by Dublin Civil Defence which have recently acquired a Hagglund for Flood and Snow Rescue operations. After accrying out extensive research the Civil Defence Force found out that the Bay Search and Rescue has the most experience in operating these vehicles.

More specifically Dublin Civil Defence was keen to find out first hand how Hagglunds can be used in live flood rescue operations, something Bay SAR has experience with after working in Cockermouth during the 2009 floods on behalf of Cumbria Fire and Rescue, who they work in partnership with.  

Dublin Civil Defence was started in 1950 to provide civil resilience support during the cold war, but unlike in England where the Civil Defence was disbanded in the 60's, in Ireland it continued to play an important role in any areas where it could support the statutory services such as an auxiliary fire brigade, ambulance service, welfare, public event support and specialist vehicles to handle extreme weather situations such as snow and flood.

There are approximately 6000 volunteers across Ireland, with 300 based in Dublin, which is split into four city areas. They operate numerous vehicles, ranging from ambulances, 4x4's fire appliances and welfare trucks, through to rescue boats – that operate in and around the Dublin Harbour.  

In the case of flood and extreme weather assistance it had become obvious in their investigations that Bay SAR offers a similar service in North Lancs and the Lakes, and with over 10 years experience with some very unique equipment they asked if Bay SAR would be prepared to train Dublin Civil Defence volunteers in how to operate and maintain their Hagglunds. The Civil Defence Force now owns two, with potentially an third on order.

Consequently Gary and Paul visited the Dublin City centre HQ and undertook an intensive initial presentation to approximately 20 members of the team. This included the history of Bay SAR and its experiences, plus how and why it evolved into using its current kit line up, followed by the specifications, operation, abilities, initial driver checks and maintenance of these unique ex-military go anywhere vehicles. The Dublin team were then provided with a detailed overview and inspection of their own vehicles, with the second machine having only arrived the previous night.

This one unsurprisingly was in 100% operational state having just been refurbished. The older vehicle proved to be due for some important maintenance, as both Gary and Paul and their respective groups had inspected it independently. Both found the same issue that if left unattended would have the potential to cause a significant problem. Bay SAR handles its own maintenance, and has even designed and made its own specialist tools for working on the 40-road wheels and tracks that a Hagglund drives on. A second set of tools will be made by for the Dublin team as part of an ongoing 'experience sharing ' partnership. The conclusion of the first training session is that Dublin Civil Defence will be sending a team over to Cumbria to be given advanced driving experience on and around the very unique terrain of Morecambe Bay and the Lakes. In addittion, Bay SAR will be sending a larger team back over to Dublin to provide driver and maintenance training, and share some the Dublin teams experiences in the very deep snows experienced in Ireland in December and January. Both teams are now also possibly looking to link up with another Rescue team that operates Hagglunds which has extensive experience in a snow and ice environments, to share skills with.

Bay Search and Rescue is an independent Charity established over 10 years ago with an operational team of 17 volunteers based at Flookburgh and Milnthorpe, in Cumbria specialising in quicksand rescue and all terrain/flood rescue inland. The team is affiliated to Cumbria Fire Service as a specialist technical rescue unit and worked extensively on behalf of the Fire Service during the floods in Cockermouth 2009. The Bay SAR operational area extends from Morecambe Bay and North Lancashire in the south right through to the North of Cumbria.  

Hagglund BV206 is a Swedish designed all terrain tracked vehicle originally intended as a military small unit support vehicle and personnel carrier, capable of carrying up to 18 persons. After extensive military service in various countries including the UK, where they were used in the Falklands and Afghanistan, they are eagerly sought after by rescue teams and companies operating in extreme conditions such as the Arctic, desert or mountainous or flooded areas. The BV206 has amphibious capabilities in slow moving water, but its greatest benefit is that it can travel almost anywhere, and being one vehicle made up of two tracked and powered carriages always has its own recovery vehicle attached.

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