West Kirby RNLI volunteers rescued 27 people and two dogs in a busy afternoon.
Shortly after midday this afternoon Saturday 23 February and about one hour before high water, the charity’s volunteers embarked on what was to become a marathon service resulting in a station record for the number of people rescued in one day.
HM Coastguards at Holyhead requested the launch of the West Kirby RNLI lifeboat at 12.10pm to assist 11 people stranded on Little Eye. West Kirby RNLI lifeboat
Seahorse was launched at Sandy Lane slipway in less than ten minutes and proceeded to the islands at full speed arriving at Little Eye within 20 minutes of the pages being set off.
On arrival at the scene, RNLI volunteers found the 11 people in three different groups; cold and wet with some in the groups verging on hypothermia due to standing in wet clothes in the strong wind. The casualties had attempted to reach the safety of the shore before being engulfed in the fast incoming spring tide that had surrounded the island group.
The RNLI lifeboat crew initially recovered seven people into the charity’s lifeboat including four adults and three children and delivered them to the shore line at Dee Lane to HM Coastguards who handed them on to the RNLI shore crew who rushed them to the West Kirby lifeboat station where they were warmed up and dried off by the shore crew. They were later assessed by paramedics who had been summoned to the station at the outset of the rescue.
As the lifeboat was about to return to collect the remaining four people stranded on Little Eye the crew were tasked to search Middle Hilbre Island for two sea kayakers who were reported by onlookers to be in distress. The RNLI lifeboat found the two sea kayakers near to the south end slipway of Middle Hilbre both safe and well and subsequently the lifeboat crew returned to Little Eye to rescue the remaining four cold and wet people stranded from the first task.
On arrival at Little Eye the four remaining people were transferred onto the lifeboat and swiftly returned to the shore at Dee Lane handed over to HM Coastguards before being taken to the lifeboat station to be warmed and dried before being assessed by NHS paramedics. All seven required no further medical attention.
As the charity’s lifeboat proceeded to Sandy lane slipway to be recovered the lifeboat was tasked again by HM Coastguard to Hilbre Island where 17 people were stranded by the incoming tide and had requested to be evacuated by the emergency services.
On arrival at the island the RNLI volunteers took on board five children and two adults and successfully returned them into the hands of HM Coastguards who were waiting at the water’s edge at Dee Lane West Kirby. The lifeboat then returned to Hilbre Island and recovered the remaining four adult women and two dogs one of this final group chose to remain on the island the rest were grateful to be returned to the safety of the shoreline and into the hands of HM Coastguards.
All of the group of seventeen who were rescued by the RNLI volunteer crew were able to continue with their day without the need for medical intervention.
Finally, the lifeboat was re-carriaged at Sandy lane slipway returned to the station to be washed off, refuelled and prepared for the next service request.
Afterwards the lifeboat volunteers returned to their families after a busy afternoon.
The emergency agencies including the RNLI volunteers, HM Coastguards and the NHS paramedics worked well together and due to their swift intervention 27 people were rescued from the Hilbre Islands without any injuries and were able to continue with their respective weekends.
Jono Dodd who coordinated the RNLI volunteer response this afternoon stated that it is essential that visitors to the Hilbre Islands group check the tide times and carry food, water, spare clothing and at least some form of reliable communication device before embarking to the islands.
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 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.