Coastguard launches hard-hitting 'Every Second Counts' campaign

New research revealing widespread ignorance among the public about who they should call for help if someone is drowning at sea has prompted the government to make a hard-hitting film available to broadcasters for the first time.

The Coastguard campaign juxtaposes a beautiful beach scene with harrowing audio from a real 999 call
The Coastguard campaign juxtaposes a beautiful beach scene with harrowing audio from a real 999 call

The "999 Coastguard Every Second Counts" one minute awareness advert was commissioned by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and made by creative agency AMV BBDO.

Shot on 35mm film, it juxtaposes serene beach scenes with harrowing audio from an actual 999 call in which a distraught 12-year-old girl reports that three of her friends have been swept out to sea and begs for help.

In that particular case the children, who were at risk of drowning off Fraserburgh beach, Scotland, were saved just in time.

But too many people do not know that they should call 999 if there is an emergency, on or off the beach, which could mean vital minutes are lost if someone is at risk of drowning, according to the MCA.

New research by the government agency, based on focus groups with more than 80 people and a survey of almost 600 people last summer, revealed that 50 per cent of people did not know that you should call the emergency number and ask for the coastguard.

Concern over the levels of ignorance among the public over what number to call if faced with an emergency at sea or on the coast has prompted the Cabinet Office to make the film available through its filler service this month.

This is the first time the film, initially used on social media platforms, has been made available to broadcasters.

A Government Communication Service spokesperson commented: "TV and Radio Fillers are impartial public service announcements containing public health, welfare and safety content, and as such are used at the goodwill of broadcasters in free-of-charge donated airspace."

The film’s release to broadcasters is part of a new coastal safety campaign by the UK Coastguard, with safety information at and an increased number of warning signs on beaches.

Stickers are also being distributed to sea-front locations reminding people to call 999 for Coastguard in an emergency.

Julia Gosling, MCA communications officer, told PRWeek: "The coastal safety message is especially topical this summer, given the insight we have from research with the UK general public about the lack of awareness that you call 999 and ask for Coastguard in an emergency at the coast."

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