Pulled from the water with moments to spare: Saving Lives at Sea returns
‘There was this moment when I just couldn’t swim anymore and I could feel I was giving up’ – those were the words of Veronika, who found herself fighting for her life as she was swept out to sea and was pulled to safety by Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteers at Weston-Super-Mare.
In the up and coming episode, the volunteers at Weston-Super-Mare lifeboat face one of their most critical shouts ever as a routine call-out turns into a race to save three casualties in the treacherous Bristol Channel. In the fast-flowing tide, the casualties find themselves exhausted and in desperate need of help, and time is of the essence for the RNLI volunteers.
Liam McDermott, volunteer helm at Weston-Super-Mare, said: ‘The pager can sound any time of night or day, but as soon as it goes your mindset changes as you know someone is in trouble, and that day is one I won’t forget. Launching to people in the water certainly gets the adrenalin running and as we were preparing to rescue two people, we were told a third person was attempting a rescue and they too were in difficulty.’
Veronika found herself moments away from giving up said: ‘We were out for a walk and when we turned to go back we realised that the water was covering the path. The water started to rise up really fast and swept us into open sea, that was the moment I realised we were in big trouble.’
The drama continues in the episode on the North East coast as a father and son find themselves trapped at a bottom of a sheer cliff face with no way out. With the tide still rising and rough seas, the volunteers from Redcar RNLI race to the scene as the last bit of dry land slowly disappears beneath them. While in Swanage on the South coast, both of the station’s lifeboats launch when two Mayday calls come in back to back, one to a grounded yacht, the other to a skipper who’s suffered a severe injury after catching a hand in his yacht’s winch.
Gavin Steeden, Swanage RNLI volunteer said: ‘No two call-outs are ever the same, and for two calls to come in at the same time, that is pretty rare. Launching to someone with a serious injury certainly gets you thinking. You never quite know what you are going to find when you arrive on scene but our training prepares us for all eventualities. As we approached the yacht we could see the skipper in a great deal of pain and clutching his injured hand. I placed a crewmember onboard who quickly took control of the situation and the yacht. As soon as you arrive to help people you can certainly see the relief on their face which is a great feeling.’
During the course of filming, the global coronavirus pandemic struck, which has seen RNLI lifesavers adapt and overcome various challenges to the way they save lives at sea. The charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews maintained a 24/7 lifesaving service during these difficult times and several of the rescues featured in the series were carried out during the pandemic.
‘Our selfless RNLI lifesavers continued to help others at the height of the pandemic when the country was in lockdown, however, the ability to raise vital funds has been affected. Our legacy income is down, our shops were shut at the height of restrictions, and face-to-face fundraising was unable to take place. Added to this, further restrictions mean that we don’t know when or where further impact might happen in the next few weeks and months. Public support is now more important than ever and to be able to tell stories about the impact on our crews and families of those people we save through such a well-established programme is a welcome opportunity to demonstrate how our lifesavers really can make a difference to someone’s life.’
Now in its fifth series, the 10-part documentary showcases the lifesaving work of the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards from around the UK and Ireland. The series will air on BBC Two on Tuesdays at 8pm, as well as being available on BBC iPlayer following broadcast.
Notes to Editors
- The series is made for the BBC by Blast! Films.
- Interviews with a selection RNLI crew members and casualties who feature in the series are available upon request
- Selection of RNLI images of lifeboats and volunteers available upon request
For more information please contact Dave Riley, RNLI National Media Officer – David_riley@rnli.org.uk. Alternatively, call the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.