Tractor Run in aid of Sky Watch (NI)-25th March

Sky Watch (NI) are holding a Tractor Run on Saturday 25th March 2017 to raise funds for training and equipment for their Search Unit.  The gates open at 1200 and all are welcome to attend.  The tractors will be setting of at 2pm and the run will last for approximately one hour returning to Lilburn’s Farm.

Entry is £10 per tractor and passengers are £5

Entry includes a £2 token to use at the catering van and one ticket for the raffle.

Entrance forms are completed on arrival.

Search for missing 23 year old Jack Glenn on the River Foyle

Sky Watch Ni were tasked by the Police Service of Northern Ireland to attend a search on the River Foyle on Saturday 11th February 2017 to assist in the search for a missing 23 year old.

A team of four responded and initially completed a search of  the reed beds from Granshna Park area.

They then returned to Foyle Rescues Head Quarters to view the footage and then deployed on one of their boats to check and rule out some items on the video tape.

They then returned to Foyle Rescues Head Quarters to view the footage and then deployed on one of their boats to check and rule out some items on the video tape.

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We would like to thank Foyle Rescue for assisting us to get to the more inaccessible areas.

Sky watch NI – Review of 2016

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2016 was quite a busy year for Sky Watch NI.  The officers and responders have been working hard behind the scenes.  The team is growing and the experience we have among the team is very varied but all are very experienced in what they do.

They have attended several courses to ensure their skills are all current and working on a more structured Sky Watch NI.

The year was started with a Mountain Rescue Leadership Course and ended with Basic Life Savings Skills.

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The Leadership Course was an opportunity for some of our Responders and Officers to work and train with other Rescue Units from both North and South of the border.  This was a weekend event and involved leading teams on exercises and ending with a major incident.

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April saw us involved in a training exercise at the new Gobbins Cliff Path at Islandmagee training with the Coastguard.  This gave some of the Responders a chance to experience being carried in rescue stretchers.

June we were working with Lough Neagh Rescue at Kinnego Marina, Oxford Island in a multi agency rescue exercise.

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September we could be seen at the Emergency Services Show in Birmingham.  We had a stall there and this gave the Response team a chance to look at what new equipment is available and to Network with similar units.

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October we spent a day with the Coastguard at Ards

Airfield.  We were invited as part of a familiarisation day for

Coastguard members, to make them aware of

what air assets were available to them.  Responders also went for some off road training later in the month.

 

December was very busy.  Some of the team went over to represent the Northern Ireland members at the Sky Watch UK AGM at Sywell aerodrome.

We also were at Kinnego Marina again testing some of our equipment in the water.

The year ended with the responders completing a Basic Life Saving course at Craigavon Area Hospital.  Thanks to Bernie O’Connor the Resuscitation Officer, at Craigavon Area Hospital for providing this.

In between this the responders have been involved in several searchs for both missing people and on occasions missing animals.

They have conducted several presentations to groups, we would like to thank the groups as all funds raised on these evenings are used to fund Sky Watch NI.

What does 2017 hold for the team and the members?

We have more training to complete to ensure we are the best at what we do.

We aim to hold an open day later in 2017 to show our members what we can do. An opportunity to see the latest equipment and explain how those who wish to can become more involved.

Events that are open to members and where we need additional assistance will be emailed to registered members.

I hope this reassures you that we have been busy, growing and becoming more inclusive.

The team are looking forward to what 2017 has to bring.

Sky Watch at the Balmoral Show 2015

Our thanks once again to the organisers of the Balmoral Show for our superb stand and to our new and experienced volunteers, who kindly gave up their free time and work time to meet the public.

It was  a very busy three days with hundreds of leaflets distributed and numerous kind donations. Lots of people stopped to enquire about our work and discover their temperature on our thermal camera. Our new schools programme proved popular with visiting schools too.

We would also like to thank Johnston Gilpin, Lisburn for the use of their Gator, a superb off road cart which allowed us to transport our heavy equipment around the site for UAV flights and quick redeployment of staff.

Skywatch ‘Feature’ at Emergency Services Show

ACC Sean White of the Cleveland PoliceSkywatch was fortunate enough to be situated close to the seminar area when ACC Sean White of the Cleveland Police was due to give his talk on the use of UAVs at this years’ Emergency Services Show.

As a related prop, Skywatch was offered the opportunity to position their fixed wing drone beside the presentation screen which provided some excellent branding for the charity and even some media coverage, as seen in the October edition of Police Aviation News.

Summer Prize Winners

Skywatch Collecting TinOver the summer we ran a number of competitions at events and festivals with a range of prizes from toy gliders to a flight in our Foxbat.

Below is a list of our prize winners:

The Lost Sheep prizes were won by
J Potter of Ballyclare and J. Erskine.

The Firesize Quiz was won by Majorie Craig of Donemana.

The Yellow Box Challenge for 2014 was won by Sandra Patterson and Collete Jones, both of Kilmore Ladies’ Group in Lurgan. The winners receive a flight in a light aircraft.

If you are interested in the Yellow Box Challenge for a group or organisation you belong to, please contact us.

On Exercise with the North West Mountain Rescue Team

On Sunday 31st August, SkyWatch NI undertook a days training with the North West Mountain Rescue Team (NWMRT) on Slieveanorra in County Antrim.

Beginning at 10am under blue skies and light winds we spent the morning discussing a range of protocols for search, communication and interoperability followed by equipment familiarisation.

This led to a number of agreements on procedure, particularly in relation to search, scene management and communication procedures, ensuring a faster, more coordinated approach during real incidents. It also gave both teams an opportunity to meet each other and understand each others capabilities and limitations.

Following a quick lunch on the mountainside we began a search within the designated area based on a mock missing persons’ profile. While the NWMRT utilised their strength in numbers and profile based search techniques, SkyWatch undertook wide area and inaccessible area searches using the quadcopter.

As the afternoon progressed the NWMRT found the first of the two missing people and provided a team to extract them by stretcher back to their awaiting vehicles. The second missing person was then spotted by the quadcopter operator within a sunken gulley, in the boggy and challenging ground cover. While the visibility remained excellent throughout the day, wind sheer on the lee side of the mountain pushed both the quadcopter and operator to their limit with the unit flying over 60º horizontally into the wind to maintain stability while still recording an excellent image.

With the second person identified, the NWMRT then provided personnel for the medical assistance and recovery of the individual.

Overall the day highlighted a number of operating procedures which benefited from refinement, some clear decisions on protocol and the ease and professionalism of working with the NWMRT who facilitated the days’ training.

It also highlighted the immediate need for a SkyWatch command vehicle for the radio control officer, battery charging stations and video analysis. Currently this is provided through the donation of volunteers’ own vehicles and equipment.

You can find out more about the North West Mountain Rescue Team on their website.