Two long-standing North Devon coastguards have resigned from their roles after a dispute over health and safety.

Gary Court, who was officer in charge for Croyde Coastguard Rescue Team, has stood down after being reprimanded for taking a teenager to hospital in his van rather than waiting for an ambulance.

Gary, who has more than 32 years of experience as a coastguard, including 10 as officer in charge, was told he would have to go through a training scheme after the incident at Croyde beach on the night of Sunday, June 23.

The 53-year-old said a female colleague with 18 years of experience had also resigned.

After being paged to find the unconscious male, the team linked up with a paramedic and found the teenager 'out of it', soaking wet and fully clothed.

The casualty was put on a stretcher and taken to the slipway where the coastguard team and senior paramedic waited for an ambulance truck to take him to hospital.

A 90 minute wait saw two ambulances redirected to other jobs. Gary volunteered his van to take the casualty, who remained in the stretcher, to be taken to hospital with the paramedic.

Gary said his priority was to get the casualty out of a situation they were 'starting to get worried about'.

He said: "What I did wrong was not call my superior officer to ask permission to take him in my van.

"I used coastguard equipment for my own personal use and didn't sign off, so was still officially on Coastguard duty.

"I've loved my life as a painter and decorator and a coastguard, that's how I've lived my life and I've enjoyed both. When it gets to the stage when you're told off for saving a life and freeing up a paramedic it gets a bit ridiculous.

"They would have to put me through training scheme. I've been doing this job for so long at the level I've been at and I'm one of the longest serving coastguards.

"Every incident that happens between Woolacombe and Barnstaple bridge, I've been on it. All of them."

Gary said Croyde remains in good hands with an experienced team, but admitted the volunteer service can feel 'out on a limb' during the busy summer months.

He added: "People don't always recognise the Coastguard as the service we are. Volunteers, ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will do whatever is necessary."

A statement from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said it was reviewing how it works with the ambulance service following the incident

It said : "HM Coastguard strive to ensure that its operating procedures, search and rescue techniques and responses are not only consistent but are continually reviewed as part of our post-mission review process.

"As part of the review into this particular incident, a training element was identified and a short refresher course was offered to two coastguard rescue officers.

"One has agreed to the refresher training, the other has regrettably decided to resign and another unaffected officer has decided to do the same.

"The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has the utmost respect for our coastguard rescue officers who provide a round-the-clock professional, dedicated and valuable service."