First call out as helm when RNLI New Brighton lifeboat crew assists casualty
Minutes after being approved to become helm, RNLI Lifeboat Helm Jay Hennessey was leading RNLI volunteers to a person on the Egremont breakwater. The team were tasked by UK Coastguard to a woman, who was reported to be in a distressed state, at around 9.40pm on 10 July 2018.
Jay was told by the RNLI lifeboat station’s divisional assessor-trainer that he had been passed out in the role around 20 minutes ahead of pagers sounding. When the alert came he was part way through an additional written exam, abandoning it to undertake his first call out as RNLI helm to aid the casualty.
‘Normally there’s a bit of time to absorb the news, so it was a surreal moment. But that’s what we are trained for,’ Jay said. ‘I’d started the exam around 9pm so I was about halfway when the call came. But there wasn’t time to ponder.’
At the scene south of the Black Pearl pirate ship, RNLI lifeboat volunteers found a female and her male companion sitting on the Egremont sea defence wall. Jay said: ‘We were initially providing safety cover, but as the woman made moves to enter the water and repeated this after the man with her headed back to shore, we decided to put crew members Trevor Boyes and Alison Gibbins on with her. They successfully encouraged the casualty into the lifeboat and it was a great relief to have her safely onboard.’
On shore at Egremont beach, RNLI lifeboat crew passed the casualty to the waiting Wirral Coastguard Rescue team. While her condition was being assessed by an off-duty ambulance first responder, the woman again tried to enter the water.
Jay said: ‘Our RNLI Shore Crew Mark Greensmith, alongside members of Wirral Coastguard Rescue, managed to stop her. She was taken into the care of Merseyside Police and we were stood down.’
The RNLI volunteers returned to the boathouse and while the lifeboat was made ready for service, Jay completed his exam. He said: ‘I finished it just after midnight. It was great to get it done but the most important priority is always the casualty. It’s all about saving lives at sea for us. That is paramount.’
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.