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RYA Powerboat Racing Awards – Osprey Powerboat Rescue Team

John Moore on 4th February 2017

The Trophy – Tony Needell Award for Services to the Sport

The trophy is dedicated to Tony Needell – to be awarded in rotation between the various powerboat racing disciplines. The criterion is that it should be presented to anyone who is adjudged as having given outstanding service to the sport.

Osprey Powerboat Rescue Team – The 2016 winner of the Tony Needell Award

The Osprey Powerboat Rescue Team have been recognised for their invaluable safety coverage during Powerboat GP, F1 H2o and F1 H2o Nation Cup events.

Senior member and one of it’s founders Ches Woodford said;

We are extremely humbled to receive the Tony Needle award. Although there are only five of us here tonight this award goes to the scores of team volunteers who, over the past fifty years have given up so much to make our sport as safe as possible in the modern era of powerboat racing.

The team has over fifty years of experience in the field of safety and rescue and were formed by an enthusiastic group of divers from Stafford Sub Aqua Club, after they received an invitation to attend a 24 hour powerboat race meeting at Chasewater in the United Kingdom in 1967.

Before the formation of the Osprey Powerboat Rescue Team, and their introduction of new ways of working, it was usual for an injured driver or crewman to be pulled out of the water over the side of the rescue craft – a painful process that invited worsening the injury from the accident – especially to broken ribs, limbs or back trauma.

The team, in conjunction with a boat builder, designed the ideal purpose-built rescue craft – a powerful and fast cathedral-hulled boat with a front ramp that could be lowered at the scene to float the injured person onto a stretcher within the partially flooded boat.

This ensures that during the extraction from the water the injured person is fully supported and then carefully transported – on a stable platform – while he or she is able to be assessed and receive immediate critical first aid while being transferred to the on-shore medical service.

The Osprey boat design also incorporates a four meter double aluminium A frame at the bow of the boat which is used to support the race boat cell out of water thus giving the driver vital extra minutes to ensure no further injury is caused during extraction.

Advanced on-board medical kit allows Osprey to support ventilation and circulation of a severely injured pilot – while protecting the neck and spine with collars and long-board.

Over the years the team has accumulated a vast knowledge and expertise of rescue and has continually developed equipment and new skills.

The team was involved in the testing of the safety cell which was developed by Chris Hodges to reduce the injuries during races, and we also pioneered a self-contained lifting device to ensure the driver and cockpit are clear of the water in the event of an accident to reduce the risk of drowning.

Many rescue teams use the Osprey boat design and methods.

No rescue is ever quite the same as another and the team has to react quickly – thinking on their feet – at every incident.He or she must be a qualified diver and be able to mix in with existing members; commitment to give up annual leave is required to attend meetings in the UK and abroad several times a year.

They must apply for probationary status for up to two years and if found acceptable by the team’s members may be accepted as a full member.All Ospreys members undergo yearly re-certification in medical training when haemorrhage control, CPR, advanced airway and paramedical skills are practiced; its experienced divers are re-certified every year and all members attend drivers’ Immersion Testing (Dunk Test) and Microdive scuba training, annually.

At present the team has 25 highly motivated and trained active members – drawn from all walks of life and each contributing in their own unique way to.

Photos: Chris Davies (Top) F1 H2o (accident)

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