Two police officers receive awards for rescuing four people from Loch Long

Officers
Constable Iain McInnes and Constable Jamie Byrne responded to two incidents on Loch Long in September 2020.

By Lucy Ashton

Two police officers who were involved in two rescues from a Scottish loch in one night have won an award.

Ministry of Defence police constables Iain McInnes and Jamie Byrne helped save four people from Loch Long, near Arrochar,  when their dinghy capsized on 6 September 2020.

One the same night they helped redirect two foreign nationals who had become stranded on the loch.

PC McInnes and PC Byrne have received a Defence Police Federation Award.

The officers had just started their night relief when they received a message from Belfast Coastguard that four people were in Loch Long.

They had been using a dinghy to bring refreshments back to their yacht when the boat capsized.

PC McInnes said: “We quickly assessed that the woman who was in the most trouble was the weakest swimmer.

“She was struggling and clinging on to a ladder at the side of the yacht, but the ladder had come away from the boat so she was going under the water.”

She was very cold and had started to develop hypothermia.

The officers had rescued two women and brought them on to their boat when a lifeboat arrived and assisted with the rescue of the other two casualties.

Two lifeboat crew, including a doctor, came aboard the police boat to help with first aid.

A search and rescue helicopter which had been training in the area also responded to a call for help, and the officers requested an air lift for the woman who was suffering from hypothermia.

PC Byrne was required to line up the boat with the helicopter while it was on the move, which was a complex manoeuvre for an officer so early in his career.

The casualties were taken to hospital and all made full recoveries.

Officers given the award
The officers attended the Defence Police Federation Excellence Awards in Southampton earlier this month.

The officers returned to the station to complete their reports although later that night they discovered another incident.

At 01:00 the pair were on patrol in Loch Long when they heard voices and they found an aluminium boat with an outboard engine and two men on board.

The men were foreign nationals who had been fishing the previous day and their boat had become stranded and they had waited for the tide to change.

By this point it was dark and they had got lost, being unfamiliar with the local area and they had no navigational equipment or lights.

The officers checked the men’s identity and then returned them to their original point of entry into the water.

On winning the award, PC McInnes said: “I am very pleased to win this award, but I’ve had 32 years in the job so I’m more pleased for Jamie to receive this at the start of his career.”

PC Byrne said: “I was quite shocked and surprised to get the award, but it’s lovely to be recognised.

“I was very lucky that I’d worked with Iain for 10 months as a crew during Covid. It was great to learn from him, he taught me a lot.”

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