Loch Lomond rescue crews want move to end need for police escorts

The team wants to move from its current base in Luss to a permanent home in Balloch.

Loch Lomond rescue crews want Balloch move to end need for police escorts STV News

Loch Lomond rescue crews often need a police escort to get where they’re needed and they want that to change.

They want to raise money to move from their current base in Luss to a permanent home in Balloch, next to the Duncan Mills Slipway.

Crew members are not on the loch all the time; instead when their pagers buzz, they drop whatever they’re doing and race to the St John rescue boat.

“Most of our crew members are from the Balloch, Alexandria area, so it’s quite a journey for us to get to Luss,” said coxswain Clinton Salter.

“The A82 on a bank holiday weekend can be bedlam and sometimes we’ve had to get police escorts to get to the boat.

“It’s so much quicker from Balloch and we are there within five minutes, ready to get on the boat and go.”

When temperatures surged last week, hundreds flocked to Loch Lomond’s shores to keep cool, placing the team on high alert.

On busy days, they can respond to eight callouts – with inflatable paddle boards and canoes ranked as their biggest concerns on the hottest days.

“Loch Lomond is a large muddy puddle,” says Clinton. “Shore lines can go out six to ten feet, then it immediately drops off.

“A lot of our recoveries are from the islands. People paddle and swim out, but when they get there, they struggle to come back in against the wind.

“If they’re holding on to the paddle board or canoe, they can be in the water for some time, but mild hypothermia sets in and you start getting weak limbs and don’t concentrate fully.

“We can get to you in that time as long as you’ve got a personal flotation device on. Otherwise, your odds aren’t so good.”

To illustrate the variations in depths, the crew showed STV News just how quickly the water can go from four feet deep to 16. Here, the temperatures can go from a pleasant 15C to 5C.

“As soon as you hit that cold water, the first thing the body does is gasp,” says Clinton. “If you’ve got a mouth full of water, you need to be careful.”

Additional reporting by Scott Duffield

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