A MUSSELBURGH Coastguard has received a long service and good conduct medal for keeping people safe on the coast over the past 20 years.

Brian Maitland, who has experienced everything from aircraft crashes to major rescue incidents, was presented with the accolade by HM Coastguard divisional commander Mike Bill at Port Edgar, South Queensferry, last week.

Mr Maitland, a 40-year-old dad-of-two, has spent about 15 years of his volunteer Coastguard service with the Fisherrow Coastguard Rescue Team based at Musselburgh Fire Station.

He said the presentation, which was attended by colleagues from other Coastguard teams including Kinghorn and South Queensferry, was “very humbling”.

He added: “Every day it is a different job.

“It is not about money, it’s about if someone is in danger and you can help them, which is worth it.

“You can save a life – that has happened in the past.”

One of a family of seven from Tolcross in Edinburgh, Mr Maitland followed in his older brother John’s footsteps, initially joining the Coastguard team at Granton.

He said that his late mother always encouraged them to “give something back to people” and his younger brother Ian Grant also joined his two siblings as a volunteer Coastguard officer.

Following changes in the service, Mr Maitland, who lives in Leith, was moved to Fisherrow where the family’s Coastguard connection has continued with his nephew Jordan Malcolm, 20, enlisting as a volunteer Coastguard rescue officer, also based at Musselburgh.

The six-strong Fisherrow team covers the coast from Aberlady Bay west to Cramond.

As a volunteer Coastguard rescue officer, Mr Maitland receives mobile phone alerts at any time of day or night to attend an emergency.

If he can respond, he travels to Musselburgh Fire Station and takes charge of the well-equipped Coastguard off-road vehicle.

Information about an incident is relayed to the Coastguard’s Scottish headquarters in Aberdeen which co-ordinates the search and rescue operation, calling on the aid of lifeboats and helicopters if necessary.

Coastguard rescue officers have a range of duties including: helping rescue people trapped on the coast such as on cliffs, stuck in mud or in the water; searching for missing people; reporting and dealing with pollution or other hazards; helping the emergency services and local authorities during emergencies, for example flooding; going to schools, clubs and other public places to tell people about staying safe at sea and along the coast; and carrying out duties for the Receiver of Wreck, such as dealing with wreckage or dead whales and dolphins on the shoreline.

Mr Maitland recalled major incidents he had attended, including a plane crash in the sea at Silverknowes and an operation to find four anglers in the Firth of Forth who sadly lost their lives.

He has dealt with a whale washed up between Fisherrow and Portobello, and several reports that children were drifting out to sea on inflatables at Portobello which turned out not to be the case.

He said that throughout his two decades as a volunteer Coastguard, he had received a lot of support from his employer New Trend Office Furniture, which he delivers goods for.

He also paid tribute to his mentor throughout his service, section officer Joe Mitchell.