TWO rescue services have learned the lie of the land at Spitbank Fort during a joint training exercise.
Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (Gafirs) joined up with Portsmouth Lifeboat to practise evacuating casualties from the fort.
The exercise was organised by Gafirs training officer Alex Stypulkowski.
Both crews were shown around the Victorian fort by staff and identified any problem areas which may cause issues during a real-life rescue.
Mr Stypulkowski said: ‘With the forts being used more and more for recreational and leisure activities, it is vital that we keep our skills sharp.
‘We need to familiarise ourselves with the layout of the forts so we can work quickly and efficiently when we are tasked to assist a casualty.
With the forts being used more and more for recreational and leisure activities, it is vital that we keep our skills sharpAlex Stypulkowski
‘What’s more, this training will ensure the staff on the forts are familiar with our processes too.’
So far this year, Gafirs has been sent to three incidents by HM Coastguard on the forts in the Solent.
Coxswain Pete Byford added: ‘The training exercise gave us a valuable insight into the layout of Spitbank Fort which, due to its Victorian construction, is somewhat like a maze and has no modern luxuries like lifts.
‘We tackled a rescue manikin which had fallen and was unconscious in the bowels of the fort and, working as a team, we trained using a range of extraction techniques and tools to get the injured person to safety.
‘It was great working with Portsmouth Lifeboat crew because we could share years of experience of tackling these sorts of rescues in different ways.
‘I’ve personally come alongside the forts on a call-out where there are strong tides and it can be tricky to get people out, so this exercise was extremely valuable.
‘I’d like to thank the staff on the fort who were very accommodating.’
The exercise took place yesterday and the crews spent three hours on the fort practising the rescues.