Major training exercise for whale response volunteers

A major training exercise to test the response to a whale ‘mass stranding’ incident will take place at Hampton in Herne Bay tomorrow (Saturday 24 June).

Up to 50 volunteers from marine mammal rescue charity British Divers Marine Life Rescue will be taking part. The photo above shows a similar exercise elsewhere in the country.

The event will involve several life-size inflatable models of pilot whales being ‘stranded’ on the beach, and the volunteers invited to come in to rescue them in simulated conditions.

Anyone who notices these activities on the beach should not be alarmed or call the authorities – it’s just an exercise.

The advice to anyone who finds a live stranded dolphin or whale is to call BDMLR’s 24 hour emergency hotline, 01825 765546, immediately for urgent first aid advice and for help to be sent as soon as possible.

Canterbury City Council’s Cabinet member for the coastal towns, Cllr Chris Cornell, said: “These rescue exercises are important and vital in preparing volunteers in our area who help protect our marine life in this way.

“It’s a sad truth that animals wash up on our beaches quite regularly throughout the year and they always attract attention, so we want to make residents aware that this is planned.”

BDMLR’s Director of Welfare and Conservation, Dan Jarvis, who has organised the training session, said: “These exercises are really important and useful to our volunteers for gaining experience, testing their first aid, assessment, rescue and communication skills, and particularly for our incident coordinators to take charge of organising everything from animal care to emergency services liaison to crowd and media control.

“They don’t happen too often as they’re a huge logistical challenge to set up, and of course we were unable to run them during the pandemic.”

Published: 23 June 2023

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