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The coastguard is a national organization run by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) which is responsible for co-ordinating air-sea rescue. The MCA is made up of Her Majesty’s Coastguard and Search and Rescue, employing over 1,200 people and supported by over 3,000 volunteer Coastguard Rescue Officers.
Primarily the MCA's responsibilities will lie in the organisation and mobilisation of services to respond to a person or vessel in distress at sea. However, work under the MCA is incredibly varied; it also includes the creation of cliff, mud and rescue teams, checking ships meet UK and international safety rules and preventing coastal pollution.
With 19 Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres across the country, the maritime and coastguard network is the first point of call for anyone in distress at sea or in the coastal areas, as the Coastguard is recognised as a 999 emergency service.
The coastguard works alongside other organizations such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution when lifeguards are required, and other parts of the emergency services.