Dover and Littlestone lifeboats assist multi-agency search for missing person
At 3:35pm on Sunday 11 December volunteer crew members from Dover RNLI abandoned their Sunday roasts to join forces with the UK Coastguard in order to find a female who had made a 999 call reporting she had fallen on rocks and was injured.
By approximately 4pm, Dover RNLI’s Severn class all-weather lifeboat the City of London II, under the command of Duty Coxswain Robert Bendhiaf, was on scene searching from Folkestone Harbour towards Samphire Hoe alongside the Coastguard helicopter and teams along the shore.
With no sightings of the woman by 6pm, the UK Coastguard requested Littlestone-on-Sea RNLI’s Atlantic 75 inshore lifeboat to join the search amid concerns for the woman’s welfare. RNLI volunteers searched for seven hours with no sign of the woman.
At its peak, an estimated 100 volunteers and emergency service personnel were involved with Sunday evening’s search and rescue operation, which drew to a close at approximately 10:30pm.
Thankfully, the next day, there was a positive outcome when the woman was found safe and well.
Robert Bendhiaf, Duty Coxswain for Dover RNLI said ‘Sunday evening was one of the longest and largest multi-agency search and rescue operations in our area in recent years; it was a great opportunity to work together and put all our training to use.
‘At one point we had a total of three lifeboats searching which included our inshore inflatable “Y-boat” to get in close to the rocks, Littlestone RNLI’s Atlantic 75 searching inshore and within Folkestone Harbour and our Severn class lifeboat searching further offshore and the outer harbour. White parachute flares were used to illuminate the area to aid searching when the helicopter left the scene to re-fuel.’
Ed Baker, Dover RNLI Press Officer said ‘Around 190 people die each year along our coasts, roughly half of those are due to accidental slips, trips and falls. We'd like to take this opportunity to remind the public to respect the water, during the winter months more than ever with falling light and colder temperatures it makes search and rescue efforts and survival much tougher. Visit www.respectthewater.com for safety advice.’
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Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.