So what happens when you dial 999 to report someone in trouble at sea? The opportunity was taken recently to illustrate the variety of both voluntary and non-voluntary emergency services committed to keeping the waters around Thanet's coastline safe.
Volunteers at Thanet's two RNLI lifeboat stations have had a busy summer. During July and August Margate's two lifeboats dealt with a 50% increase in calls from the same period last year and sadly the summer headlines nationally have included occasions when a fun day at the seaside has ended in tragedy.
Members of Thanet's emergency services gathered together recently on a bright Sunday morning to illustrate the diverse range and number of people committed to ensuring that the experience of locals and visitors alike when enjoying Thanet's coastline is a safe one.
Two RNLI lifeboats are stationed at both Margate and Ramsgate with Margate's inshore and all-weather lifeboats and their volunteer crews represented here. Thanet is fortunate in having the services of seasonal RNLI lifeguards at nine of the island's beaches and their preventative and educational work is as important as their lifesaving activities.
Volunteers from HM Coastguard's local Coast Rescue Team may be involved providing rescue activities including cliff rescue as well as being the eyes and ears of their colleagues at Dover and Fareham who coordinate rescues around the UK coastline.
South East Coast Ambulance Service will be involved when those rescued need medical attention and Kent Fire and Rescue Service may also respond to cliff incidents and other coastal rescue scenarios - they don't only put fires out!
Occasionally incidents require a police presence and Kent Police will be on hand at those times. Finally, the coastguard helicopter based at Lydd Airport was on a call and unable to make the photo shoot but is of course very much a vital part of the jigsaw which makes up Thanet's coastal and sea rescue services.
Paul Hodson, Lifeboat Operations Manager, Margate Lifeboat said: 'Saving lives at sea can involve deep-sea rescue operations down to beach and coastal incidents and the remarkable thing about the declared services who respond is that they are an eclectic mix of both voluntary charity-funded organisations such as the RNLI and government-funded services. When the pagers go off or the telephone rings everyone works together with one aim, saving lives around Thanet’s coastline.'
· Footnote. RNLI Margate would like to thank all the responders who gave their time for the photo-shoot and also Stuart Cattell, RNLI lifeboat crew member and lifeguard supervisor who coordinated those involved.
· Photo: (Groups L-R); South East Coast Ambulance Service, Kent Fire and Rescue, RNLI Margate all-weather and inshore lifeboats, RNLI Lifeguards, HM Coastguard, Kent Police.
RNLI Media contacts
· Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 firstname.lastname@example.org
· For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
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 Ireland from 238 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 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.
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 9990 or by email.
The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland