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South West RNLI volunteers on call over the festive period
7:10am Thursday 19th December 2013 in News
Volunteer RNLI lifeboat crews from across the south west, including Falmouth, Penlee and The Lizard, will as always remain on call over the festive season, prepared to leave their family celebrations to help save those in trouble at sea.
Last year the charity’s volunteers in the region were involved in a total of 30 search and rescue operations over the nine day period, which included the Port Isaac lifeboat crew saving a man’s life on New Year’s Eve. 2012 was the busiest festive period for the south west lifeboat crews since 1990 with 17 of the 35 stations in the region being called out to a total of 30 emergencies. The volunteers at Plymouth and Weston super Mare were the busiest launching a total of four times between December 23 and January 1.
The team Swanage launched three times and Poole, Lyme Regis, Exmouth, Fowey and Padstow launched twice. Other stations that launched their lifeboats to emergencies at sea included St Helier, St Catherine, Dart, Falmouth, Mudeford, Port Isaac, Rock, Salcombe and Weymouth.
On New Year’s Eve 2012, the Port Isaac RNLI lifeboat crew rescued a fisherman who was washed off rocks near Tintagel Head. It was late afternoon when the three RNLI volunteers launched onboard the D class inshore lifeboat Copeland Bell following reports that a fisherman had been washed off rocks and in to the sea. In extremely challenging conditions Andy Cameron (Helm), Nicky Bradbury and Matt Main managed to find the man who had been in the water for around an hour, and get him into the lifeboat.
At this point it was getting dark and the lifeboat volunteers had to take the fisherman, who was suffering from hypothermia, in to Boscastle Harbour so he could be transported by land ambulance to hospital. The actions of the crew, which undoubtedly saved the man’s life, were later praised by the Harbour Master at Boscastle.
Christmas 2012 also saw the RNLI’s specially trained flood rescue volunteers deployed to the flooding in Devon and Cornwall where they saved a woman’s life and rescued householders in a dramatic night of operations. On December 22 a 13 strong team which was made up of 11 volunteer lifeboat crew members from St Agnes, Looe and Rock in Cornwall, Dartmouth in Devon, Lyme Regis in Dorset and Weston super Mare in Somerset and led by two full time RNLI Inspectors were deployed with two lifeboats, a D class inshore lifeboat and an inshore rescue boat, to work alongside other emergency services to assisted 12 people, 2 dogs and 6 cats from homes in Lostwithiel in Cornwall.
Meanwhile in Umberleigh in North Devon the RNLI’s flood rescue team negotiated strong currents, debris and darkness to rescue a woman who had been swept from her car. Vanessa Glover was found clinging to a tree in the fast-flowing waters and was plucked to safety by the team.
Dave Page, RNLI Acting Regional Operations Manager says; ‘Our volunteer crew are on call 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and that includes Christmas and New Year. When most people are settling down to spend quality time with their family and friends, these dedicated volunteers remain prepared to drop everything should they be needed to help others in trouble at sea. I thank both them and their loved ones who must also be prepared for Christmas to be disturbed by the call of the pager.
Whilst encouraging people to enjoy the region’s coastline throughout the winter and over the Christmas and New Year period, it’s important that they are fully prepared with the appropriate clothing and equipment and know what to do in an emergency. By taking note of the safety advice on offer, I hope we can make this Christmas a quiet one for our volunteers.
If you are planning on visiting the coast over the festive period, please visit www.rnli.org.uk/seasafety or www.rnli.org.uk/beachsafety for the RNLI’s free all year round safety advice for sea users and beach visitors.
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