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Safety first as Coastguard stages exercise at Gobbins

By Noel McAdam

Published 25/04/2016

Mock rescue operation at The Gobbins cliff path
Mock rescue operation at The Gobbins cliff path
Mock rescue operation at The Gobbins cliff path
Mock rescue operation at The Gobbins cliff path
Mock rescue operation at The Gobbins cliff path
Mock rescue operation at The Gobbins cliff path

A major mock rescue operation has been carried out at Northern Ireland's newest tourist attraction to help ensure visitor safety.

Coastguard squads staged the exercise ahead of The Gobbins coastal path's reopening on May Day.

It was the first major emergency planning test at the site in Islandmagee in east Antrim. Normally they are conducted on the north coast.

Coastguard and rope teams from Kilkeel, Newcastle, Ballycastle, Coleraine and nearby Portmuck took part in the operation.

"There were around 50 people altogether involved. The idea was to carry out a number of exercises where they bring all the teams together," Alister Bell, operations and development manager at The Gobbins, said.

"They were also able to hold an exercise on what would happen in a case where we had multiple casualties, if a number of people had fallen at the same time."

The historic cliffside walk has been closed since December 30 due to severe damage after two heavy storms.

Mr Bell said the mock operation "had a two-fold purpose" - one to allow the Coastguard to become au fait with the walk itself and also to given it a proper training exercise. The strenuous walk now has bookings "right through the summer", he added. "In fact, within our first weekend there are only a few spaces left."

A total of 15 people at a time can be taken out every half-hour from 10am-6pm, with the walk taking two-and-a-half hours to complete.

Belfast Telegraph

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