Heroes wear HAIX: HM Coastguard's search for the right protective footwear

Her Majesty’s Coastguard provides 24-hour emergency service, 365-days a year. Coastguard teams are based around the UK coastline and deal with a range of incidents, from searching for missing people, to rescuing people from cliffs, the mud, the water and performing casualty care.

All around the UK coastline, many people in need of help rely on the 352 HM Coastguard rescue teams located in stations around the UK, from the Scottish Isles to the South Coast. Conditions can be brutal, but the passion and courage of the Coastguard teams is unwavering. These heroic individuals need, and deserve, personal protective equipment (PPE) that prioritises safety without compromising comfort - that works as hard as they do.

HAIX boots meet the highest demands in terms of functionality, quality, design and performance. In 2018, HAIX supplied over 3,000 HM Coastguard volunteers with its Black Eagle Safety 50 Mid boot, equipped with high level protection. Supporting them in their critical duties with the protection they need when completing their missions.

THE PROBLEM

Richard Hackwell, Head of Coastal Resources for HM Coastguard, explains: “The HM Coastguard is always looking for new resources to better prioritise comfort and personal safety”. Foot protection specifically is something Richard and the HM Coastguard place great importance on, due to the variety of daily challenges their volunteers come across. Richard says: “Our volunteers are lifting loads, carrying people and working on a variety of terrains. We need a protective boot that is functional and will support us in what we have to do. Our volunteers work hard, and we need a boot that can keep up and work just as hard as they do.”

 Coastguard volunteers need boots that can withstand a variety of environments and bracing conditions. In the Western Isles of Scotland, where a number of search and rescue (SAR) teams are based, keeping volunteers’ feet dry and warm is a priority. SAR teams along the South Coast need dependable boots that can tackle the diverse challenges posed by mixed terrain, from seafront to rock armour, without compromising on comfort or breathability. “We demand a lot from our equipment as it is being used on many different kinds of terrain,” explains Richard.

It was a difficult decision for Richard and his team, as they knew how important kit is to volunteers: “With most equipment, people tend to accept what they are provided with, but boots are a very personal piece of equipment, with fit and preferences varying greatly) .” Richard and the HM Coastguard had known about HAIX for a while, were interested in HAIX boots and knowledgeable about its advanced specification offering, but it wasn’t until 2018 that Haix and HM Coastguard joined forces. There are now HAIX boots on the feet of every HM Coastguard volunteer, and the feedback has been incredibly positive.

THE SOLUTION

Investing in HAIX boots meant an improved level of safety and functionality for the HM Coastguard rescue teams. The introduction of the new boots was a ‘visual uplift’ for the volunteers, boosting morale and rewarding them with something newer and more advanced than what they had previously worn.

“Performance is key,” explains Richard. “The boots need to be able to keep up with the demands of the job. Rescue missions can last for long periods of time when searching for missing people, so it is important to ensure volunteers have the best support available for their feet.”

Comfort is also essential: “Historically, the biggest incidents we’ve had are reports of twisted ankles and slipping on surfaces. Good ankle support and decent grip enables our volunteers to have confidence in their footwear, allowing them to concentrate on the mission at hand and enhancing their performance.” 

The fit of the boots was another high commendation: “Fit is important to us. People think they know what size they are but, as we have found before, this is not always the case. In the past we’ve lost a lot of time because of incorrect sizing, but with HAIX this was never an issue”, says Richard, praising HAIX’s size charts and half-sizing capability. “We have volunteers all over the UK and the fact that the boots come in half sizes was a massive advantage for us. In addition, HAIX’s customer support made sure that roll out to 3,000 people in a short space of time was a very simple transition.”

Richard reports that the waterproofing and breathability of the boots has been very well received by the volunteers: “If you get wet feet in the early part of the search it is a major distraction, which is especially serious during risk-critical tasks. Wearing HAIX boots, however, the teams have conquered every season and all-weathers, demonstrating real return on investment for us.”

THE RESULT

The HM Coastguard values its volunteers greatly and tries to provide them with the best kit to do the job. The Black Eagle Safety boot for the Coastguard volunteers was just that.

Richard and his teams were equally as impressed by the customer service delivered by HAIX and its dealer, Bond Safety. “The service provided by HAIX and Bond Safety was exceptional. The HAIX team were very supportive and on hand throughout the whole process, offering guidance on sizing, swapping out boots to make sure the fit was absolute. It was an invaluable experience.” 

The boots were the ideal solution, effectively meeting all the criteria needed by the rescue teams and ticking all the boxes. In terms of functionality, comfort and safety, HAIX boots had it all.

Discover the right boots for your workforce. For more information about functional footwear that offers the optimal level of protection, visit the HAIX website: www.haix.co.uk