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Attacks on Coastguard unjustified – Commander

Attacks on Coastguard unjustified – Commander

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The attacks on the St Vincent and the Grenadines Coastguard Service by persons on social media and on the radio, in relation to their response to the Rock Gutter tragedy, are not justified.

This is the view of Coastguard Commander Brenton Caine,{{more}} who said that his organization was deployed within minutes of receiving notification about the accident.

Speaking at a police press conference on Wednesday, Caine said the first call came at 7:45 a.m. from coastguard Lieutenant Deon Henry, who was in Barbados at the time.

Caine said five minutes later, they received a call from police control and at 7:56 a.m., the coastguard was deployed, …”to go to try and do their best as it regards to the saving of lives.”

“The first information was kind of sketchy. Safety was paramount throughout our operation. Judging from the information I received, the operation was centred around safety,” Caine told reporters.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commander Ralphie Raguette, officer in charge of the Rock Gutter operation, said it took them only four minutes to respond to what was taking place at the time.

“Based on our response system, we have a quick response group that responds to whatever maritime operations that we have going on. That is modus under which we operate…,” he said.

Raguette said a communications network between coastguard personnel who were headed to Rock Gutter and persons at the scene was formed, to assist them with their rescue efforts.

He said from the information they received, they realized that the wave action made it impossible for them to approach from the sea and there was a possibility they may have to approach the scene of the accident from land.

He said when they got on the scene, their information was that it was impossible for anyone to dive, based on the conditions.

However, despite this, the deputy commander said at 9:35 a.m., the head diver, three other divers from the coastguard and two local divers, entered the water.

“… Most of our search was concentrated on surface search…”

He said when they got on the scene, there were no moving bodies in the water.

“…There were no saving of lives. There were more recovering bodies. The sea condition prevented that to some extent, “ Raguette added.

According to Raguette, his team followed up on every bit of information they received from the locals. He said a fisherman had told them that he saw what appeared to be a human limb floating in the water, but that was not so.

“We do not just go on scene and jump into the water. We understand the whole concept of wanting to save lives, but at the end of the day, if we are unable to save our own lives, we wouldn’t be able to save the life of the person in distress. We have a policy. It’s just not St Vincent and the Grenadines,” he stated.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Reynold Hadaway, also speaking at the press conference, said while the police too, have come in for some criticism, he believes they responded promptly.

“On the morning, having received the information, the police would have responded urgently and as swiftly as possible. As a responsible organization, we are also mourning the loss of those who died and offering prayers for those who sustained injuries in one way or the other during the incident,” Hadaway said.(KW)

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