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IMRF Hero Award for RNLI-developed bottle buoy

Lifeboats News Release

An innovative piece of low-cost rescue equipment, supported through its development by the RNLI and Bournemouth University, has won one of the first ever HERO awards from the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF).

The first ever IMRF HERO Awards took place this week, and the RNLI came away winners in the technology category, for the International team’s project with concept designer James Benson and the design team from Bournemouth University, with their design for the bottle buoy.
The bottle buoy is an innovative yet simple, sustainable and affordable idea with the potential to save lives in areas where funds for rescue equipment are limited.
It is aimed at low resource communities and can be used as public rescue equipment and for swimming instruction. The device is simple and allows 3 plastic soft drink/water bottles to be attached to a central hub. Instructions and a simple template have been developed to allow the bottle buoy to be produced in local communities using items that can be found easily - discarded plastic drinks bottles are now in abundance in many low resource environments.
Production development and user testing has been undertaken in Bangladesh in partnership with Bournemouth University's Faculty of Science and Technology and the SeaSafe lifeguard service in Cox's Bazar, a joint partnership between the RNLI and the CIPRB (Centre for Injury Prevention, Bangladesh). It has now been tested closer to home too, at the Sea Survival Centre at RNLI College and in the sea off Cromer, Norfolk, with the support of local lifeguard and lifeboat teams. The bottle buoy is now in use in Bangladesh and will undergo further testing before a final resource manual is made available by the RNLI in 2017.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Bruce Reid, CEO at the IMRF, said: 'We have all been impressed and humbled by the quality of the nominations for these awards. We congratulate the winners and thank all the nominees for their selfless commitment to saving lives across the world. 10s of 1,000s of people are rescued every year, the awards are our way of saying thanks to everyone involved in search and rescue.'
Find more information about the three other 2016 HERO award winners here.

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Alamgir with his finished bottle buoy in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh


Alamgir with his finished bottle buoy in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
The bottle buoy is tested in the sea at Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh


The bottle buoy is tested in the sea at Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

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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 Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 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.

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