British Divers Marine Life Rescue
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (photo: Steve Marsh)
British Divers Marine Rescue


2005-08-14 15:49:51

Mass Stranding Exercise at Rye Harbour, East Sussex

Sunday's Mass Stranding exercise went well and a lot was learnt by all. The usual scenario greeted medics when they arrived with three whales and two whale carves on the sandy beach. Approximately 30 medics arrived to help and had an action packed day. We'd like to thank Bob Archell for driving all the way down from Essex with his Argocat to practice and experiment with its use. It was good to practice using the machine and to see what its limitation are. Although it was not able to drag the pontoon and whale, it was able to provide effective transport for a whale calf across the beach, with the help of an air bed and the dolphin pontoons.

All the team leaders were dropped in the deep end somewhat as none of them had had previous experience of a Mass Stranding and after initial confusion at the start the teams worked well with just a few minor hicups - which are to be expected and learnt from.

Tim Reed (non BDMLR but local wildlife rescuer) was invited to be a surprise "Pain in the bum" and the team leaders all handled the situations well including real media (not medic) which arrived. (He was Paul Brown a pro photographer who has kindly donated his pics for BDMLR to use. See them on the Image Library. Tony)

Apart from a fit of the giggles, Jamie Henn played a brilliant medic casualty but none of the medics would give him mouth to mouth for some reason!! Sharon Gisby was thought to be the most experience first-aider on site and took charge of this incident. The argocat was used to take him off the beach to a fake ambulance at the top of the beach.

Maz Mariott and Mark Gregory worked well co-ordinating the two teams dealing with the two whales with their tails crossing over. A winch and pontoon tube were used to separate one whale from under another, this proved much harder than expected but the gradient of the sand made life difficult.

Third team leader Vanessa Hedley undertook a brilliant role as team leader managing her remote group having to deal with an adult plus two calves some distance from everyone else. this group also transported one calf back to the females via the argocat and the other by pontoons strapped to a boat, piloted by Geoff Hammock.

BDMLR vet James Barnett helped advise medics over the phone and one whale was euthanased due to ill health.

Thanks also to Jason Carter and Brett Lewis for helping to supervise two of the groups and helping to organise some of the problem scenarios. Medics were frequently told what the breath rate was and had to figure out why it was increasing or decreasing as well as dealing with thrashing tails and more.

Pictures are arriving at the office and the best ones will appear on the image library shortly. Thanks to everyone who helped with the setting up, the organisation of the event and for the medics for turning up in such good numbers and taking part in such good spirit - it's never exactly like the real thing but at least it gives us the opportunity to practice and make mistakes in order to learn from experience. Well done everyone involved.

Trevor Weeks AMMM
Stephen Marsh AMMM
BDMLR Sussex

MSE De-briefing

A debriefing of the Eastbourne Porpoise incident and the Mass Stranding will take place at the BDMLR office in Uckfield on Thursday 1st September at 7.30pm. Those actively involved in either stranding are welcome to attend, but please e-mail me ( to say they are attending so we know how many people are coming.

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