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RNLI’s lifeboats launch over 8,000 times in year of extreme weather

About the author

Image of Isla Reynolds

Isla Reynolds
Newsdesk and PR Manager at Poole.

Start quoteOur volunteers dedicate a huge amount of their time to saving lives at sea.End quote

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Lifeboats News Release

  • Date:
    22/01/2013
  • Author: Isla Reynolds

Lifeboats from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution launched over 8,000 times in 2012 in a year of poor weather and heavy rainfall.

2012 saw RNLI lifeboats launch 8,321 times around the coast of the UK and Republic of Ireland, rescuing 7,912 people. Meanwhile the charity’s lifeguards responded to 14,519 incidents and helped 16,414 people on beaches in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The RNLI’s Flood Rescue Team had their busiest year on record, deploying 12 times to flooding in England, Wales and Ireland.

Last year the RNLI launched a lifeboat, on average, 23 times a day and the charity’s volunteer crew spent a collective 67,352 hours at sea on service – that’s over 7 years in total. Weymouth lifeboat station volunteers spent the longest combined time at sea – 2,980 hours – and this was probably due to increased need for search and rescue cover to ensure the safety of visitors in Weymouth for the Olympics.

RNLI Operations Director, Michael Vlasto, says: ‘The figures show that our volunteers dedicate a huge amount of their time to saving lives at sea. To know that they are on call 24/7, every day of the year is reassuring for all of us who venture out to sea around the UK and Ireland.

And it’s not just our crew who are committed to our charity - they wouldn’t be able to carry out their lifesaving work without the incredible generosity of the public and I would like to say a huge “thank you” to all those who support the RNLI, whether by giving up their time or by making a donation.’

Tower lifeboat station on the Thames was the busiest with 499 launches, while Southend-on-Sea was the busiest coastal lifeboat station with 137 launches.

The overall launches are down by 7% from the 8,920 launches in 2011. With the Met Office reporting that 2012 was the second wettest year for the UK since records began, this slight drop in launches is probably due to fewer people heading out onto the water in the poor summer weather.

However, the wet weather has meant the RNLI’s Flood Rescue Team had their busiest year since their creation in 2001, deploying 12 times. They saw action in St Asaph in North Wales where they helped other emergency services to rescue people from their flooded homes and in December, volunteers Chris Missen, Paul Eastment and Martin Baker-Rowe saved the life of a woman who had been washed from her car at Umberleigh in Devon.

Michael Vlasto continues: ‘2012 has been an impressive year for our volunteer crews, lifeguards and Flood Rescue Team. There have been three lifeboat services – at Dungeness, Anstruther and Port Isaac – recognised with RNLI Gallantry Medals and the Flood Rescue Team have had their busiest year to date.’

Key RNLI figures in 2012

• RNLI lifeboats launched 8,321 times
• RNLI lifeboats rescued 7,912 people
• RNLI lifeguards responded to 14,519 incidents
• RNLI lifeguards assisted 16,414 people
• The RNLI Flood Rescue Team deployed 12 times
• 4,073 (49%) lifeboat launches were to recreational craft
• 798 (10%) lifeboat launches were to commercial craft (fishing boats and other commercial vessels)
• 1,489 (18%) lifeboat launches were to boats with mechanical failure
• Tower lifeboat station had the most launches overall and the most for an inshore lifeboat
• Southend-on-Sea had the most launches for a coastal lifeboat station
• The two new RNLI stations, Leverburgh and Lough Ree, had 11 and 14 launches respectively.

Notes to editors

• Please find three photographs attached showing the RNLI in action. Photo 1: Port Isaac inshore lifeboat (credit RNLI/Nathan Williams), Photo 2: Tobermory volunteer crew members training on board their all-weather lifeboat (credit RNLI/Sam Jones); Photo 3: RNLI lifeguards at Perrenport beach (credit RNLI/Nathan Williams), Photo 4: RNLI Flood Rescue Team help St Asaph residents affected by flooding (credit RNLI). For high res versions, please contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

• A video showing rescues from 2012 can be seen here: http://www.rnlivideolibrary.org.uk/getvideo.aspx?vid=kol5qttL. For a copy of the video file, please contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789

• For details of key rescues and case studies, please contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

• The RNLI provides a 24/7 search and rescue service every day of the year to 100 nautical miles out from the coast of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. HM Coastguard and the Irish Coast Guard initiate and co-ordinate civil maritime search and rescue (SAR) in the UK and Irish SAR regions from Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCC). During maritime emergencies on cliffs, beaches, the shoreline or at sea both of these authorities call on RNLI lifeboats and/or lifeguards, which are declared search and rescue assets. The RNLI responds within agreed criteria.

• The RNLI’s Flood Rescue Team is made up from RNLI lifeboat crew volunteers and staff who undergo additional specialist swift-water rescue training. They are supported by Toolstation.

• 95% of the RNLI’s crew members are volunteers. The RNLI has 4,600 volunteer crew members, 3,000 volunteer shore crew and station management, 35,000 volunteer fundraisers and, of its 900 lifeguards, 120 are volunteers.

Media contacts

For more information please contact Isla Reynolds, Public Relations Officer, on 01202 663127 or 07899 076224 or by email at isla_reynolds@rnli.org.uk. Alternatively, contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

Photos and video

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Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland from 236 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 999 or by email.

 

The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland