Unfit coastguards back to work

A TEAM of coastguards on the Suffolk coast is fully fit again after some of the volunteers failed new health tests.Six of the eight-strong team at Aldeburgh were told not to undertake operational duties after they were warned they were not fit enough under a new regime of health checks.

A TEAM of coastguards on the Suffolk coast is fully fit again after some of the volunteers failed new health tests.

Six of the eight-strong team at Aldeburgh were told not to undertake operational duties after they were warned they were not fit enough under a new regime of health checks.

The tests were imposed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) because it was worried that unfit volunteers could be both a danger to themselves and those they were trying to rescue.

Charlie Walker, station officer at Aldeburgh, said his team was back at work and looking forward to carrying on with their normal duties.

Mr Walker said: ''In theory the tests were quite a good idea but I think the way the first test was carried out was not very well planned and not very well executed.

''I think that most of my team failed on their blood pressure but when they visited their doctor they found it was perfectly normal.''

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Mr Walker also failed because of his blood pressure but he said his own reading was not as high when he visited his doctor.

Mr Walker, a coastguard of 36 years said: ''I think the environment it was done in and the way it was done was wrong. We should have been given a lot more notice that it was going to be done and we should have gone to our own doctor. However, we are all back at work now and raring to go.”

Mark Clark, a spokesman for the MCA, confirmed that the Aldeburgh team was ''back up to strength and all fully fit''.

The MCA says that tests are already used for police officers and fire service personnel and it was logical to ensure that coastguards were fit for what could be highly dangerous emergencies.

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