Early hours race to evacuate injured fisherman for Skegness RNLI volunteers

Lifeboats News Release

A six strong team of volunteer crew from the town's RNLI lifeboat were asked to assist a fisherman with a broken leg on a vessel in the lower Wash area, off the Norfolk coast.

The UK Coastguard requested the launch of the station's Shannon class all-weather lifeboat Joel and April Grunnill shortly after midnight, today (Friday 23 February) along with its own rescue helicopter to assist in evacuating the injured man from the 40 foot vessel.

The fishing vessel, with three people on board was operating in the Wash north of the Norfolk coast when an incident on board left the skipper with a leg broken in two places. The two remaining boat crew sent a Mayday call via their VHF radio at 00:04, this prompted swift action from the UK Coastguard who scrambled the all-weather lifeboat from Skegness and their own Rescue Helicopter based at Humberside Airport.

The 25 knot Shannon took only 30 minutes to reach the casualties position where the Coastguard rescue Helicopter was already on scene. Following an assessment of the fishing vessels manoeuvrability and the winching operation necessary to air lift the injured man from the deck of the boat it was decided that the team on the Joel and April Grunnill should first transfer the skipper to the lifeboat and then transfer to the helicopter, the lifeboat being designed to have a large rear (aft) deck area, to allow for such operations at sea.

The crew aboard the helicopter lowered an operator and stretcher onto the deck of the lifeboat and the well-trained volunteers quickly came alongside the fishing vessel and two members of the specially trained crew went aboard to secure the casualty in the stretcher and treat any immediate issues.

Both the lifeboat crew and injured man were taken back aboard the lifeboat and then the stretcher and helicopter crew winched back up to the aircraft and the casualty was taken for treatment at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital.

The Shannon was returned to station arriving back in the town shortly after 4:00am, recovered and ready for service by 5:30am.

RNLI Coxswain Richard Watson was very keen to highlight the excellent team work during the call out, he said: 'The shout highlighted the capabilities of the Skegness RNLI lifeboat crew and their training. It also showed the excellent co-operation between all the agencies involved, especially the crew of the UK Coastguard rescue helicopter.'

He added: 'We want to wish the injured young man all the best and a speedy recovery. This whole operation was dealt with very quickly, largely due to the excellent communication made possible by VHF radios. It’s vitally important that whenever you set to sea that you carry a working VHF radio, this allows you to communicate with the UK Coastguard on channel 16 in case of emergencies such as this.'

RNLI Media contacts

For more information please contact Adam Holmes, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on: 07966 282 294.

RNLI/Craig Willard

1) Skegness Shannon class lifeboat standing off from casualty vessel during winching operations with UK Coastguard rescue Helicopter

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.

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