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Arriluzeko Itsas Erreskate Basea
Base de Salvamento Marítimo de Arriluze
Sea Rescue Station of Arriluze 


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RESCUE AT LURGORRI COVE (Sopelana) - 21 October 2002
By Asier Abasolo

That day the radio was busy with some unusual things going on...

It was just a typical autum sunny sunday, but with force 8 wind gusts (about 70 Km/h) according to the weather forecasts.

 Around 16:00 we got a call from our co-ordinator saying that the Ertzaintza (the Basque police) had found a corpse on the base of a cliff and they were having difficulties to recover it. We should scramble to the area in order to give them a hand in case it was necessary.

 Immediately w organised the crews and the equipment we use on these circumstances:

· The Arriluze II lifeboat prepared for the medical asistance
  (a skipper, a sailor-lifeguard and a nurse with medical toolboxes and oxygen)).

· The Bilbao lifeboat prepared to approach the coastline
  (a skipper and two sailors/lifeguards/divers with a floating cot).

Five minutes after the call, our two lifeboats scrambled from the station, heading the site of the accident on full throttle (the site was at about five miles from the station).

The place we were heading at is known as cove Lurgorri, and it has very irregular shallow waters full of reefs. On the mouth of the cove we met the ship of the Ertzaintza, Itsas Zain, which due to her draught and the fact that she is 20 meters in length, had to remain in that position. The weather conditions made it impossible for the helycopter to work in there.

An Ertzaintza police patrol was already there down the cliff, together with the forensic expert, the judge and their helpers. They came down to proceed with their duties only to find out that they were trapped by the rising tyde.

The first thing we do in this case is to co-ordinate the resources and split the work between the intervenients, and so we did:

· The auxiliary boat of Itsas Zain, a pneumatic outboard ship 3 meters in length, had to approach the cliff to recover the people and pass it to the Bilbao lifeboat.

· The Bilbao had to take us the lifeguards as close enough so we could jump into the water and swim to the site with all the equipment neded to recover the body. Then, she would pick up the people carried by the auxiliary boat of Itsas Zain and transfer them to the big ship.

· The Arriluze II would supervise the operation and recover the lifeguards together with the body in case it was necessary.

· The Itsas Zain would be the meeting point for everybody to end the operation.

So each one of us started working according to the plan. We jumped into the ater from the L/S Bilbao provided with finns and neoprene suits to help us in our journey to the coastline together with the other equipment: A nest cot, a shroud for the body, globes and a walkie-talkie. After swimming the thirty meters between the lifeboat and the cliffs, we took off the finns since they are not very appropriated to walk on the rocks. We put on the globes and put the body in the shroud and from there to the floating cot with the help of the basque police.

Once we did this, we help the auxiliary boat of Itsas Zain to approach the rocks to pick up the people in several trips she had to do in order to take everybody to the L/S Bilbao, since she could only take two persons at a time. After recovering all the authorities from the cliff in which they were trapped we put our finns back on and swam back, towing the cot with the victim to the Arriluze II, awayting 20 meters away from us. The crew helped us taking our sad cargo into the lifeboat as one of us embarqued in order to help with its transfer to the Itsas Zain as the other one swam to the L/S Bilbao in order to help the authorities boarding the big police ship.

After a successful rescue we headed back to our station with a big satisfaction for having successfully performed our duties. This emergency did not lack of risk, but thanks to the preparation of the volunteers of the Sea Red Cross and the good job made by the Sea Brigade of Ertzaintza we managed to recover five persons and the body of the victime with no more complications than the sea-sick of one of the rescued ones in his way back to the station.