RNLI Rye Harbour and the tall ship
The combination of lifeboat and search and rescue helicopter again proves its worth
When volunteer crew-members responded to their pagers going off at 5.10 pm on Tuesday 6 April, the Coastguard request for assistance took them out of the Harbour, some five miles into Rye Bay. The TS (training ship) Royalist, a two-masted square-rigger of 32m, had on board a casualty with a hand/arm injury. While our Atlantic 85 ILB (inshore lifeboat) made the short trip out to the tall ship the crew was able to gain basic information about the casualty and on arrival Helm Matt Ellis decided to put two crewmen, Tim and George, aboard. Using their first aid training they were able to give immediate appropriate care: 'The casualty was already in good hands,' said Tim, 'because this training vessel was staffed by highly competent sailors'.
Initially, the plan was to transfer the casualty to the lifeboat and take him to emergency services on land but it was decided to deploy a SAR (search and rescue) helicopter from nearby Lydd. Tim continued: ‘A paramedic from the helicopter was winched down to Royalist and she continued giving first aid while the helicopter refuelled at Lydd and returned’. It was then possible to transfer the casualty swiftly to hospital in Ashford. The two lifeboat crew rejoined 'Hello Herbie II' for the journey back to the lifeboat station in Rye Harbour.
‘We train to help save lives at sea,’ concluded Tim, ‘and we encounter all sorts of situations. Here there was a casualty on a very well-run training ship and a highly professional helicopter crew: we were glad to play our part in the rescue.’
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 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.