RNLI rescue figures reveal a busy 2013 for East Anglia volunteer lifeboat crew and lifeguards

Lifeboat crews along the coast of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex were kept incredibly busy in 2013, according to figures released by the RNLI charity today (28 January).

Collectively, crew from the 15 lifeboat stations along the coast of East Anglia launched on 571 rescue missions last year, to attend a wide range of incidents including commercial vessels in trouble, distressed fishermen, swimmers, and leisure marine users.

The busiest lifeboat station in the region was Southend-on-Sea. They launched 142 times and assisted a total of 180 people, also making them the busiest coastal lifeboat station in the entire RNLI.

In a year of extreme weather, crews from the 15 East Anglia stations rescued a total of 722 people. They gave first aid treatment to 26 people in total, and saved the lives of 62 people – a specific RNLI criteria which states that without the intervention of the RNLI, these people would have most likely died.

In addition, the lifeguard service, which ran on 12 beaches in Norfolk and Suffolk from May to September, went to the aid of 938 beachgoers. This number covers all help given from major and minor first aid to missing children and in-water rescues.

With an estimated 550,033 beach users visiting the 12 beaches during lifeguard patrol hours, the relatively small figure demonstrates how most of an RNLI lifeguard’s work is preventative. Highly-trained to identify risks and hazards, and explain them to beachgoers before they develop into a problem, lifeguards in Norfolk chatted with over 44,679 people across the summer about everything from tides to the dangers of inflatables.

Peter Dawes, Regional Operations Manager for the RNLI, said: ‘Whether it is hot and sunny or windy and rainy, the water always presents a number of risks for visitors to the coast. We would always recommend that people take care when going to the coast and follow some simple safety tips; always check tide times before taking to the water; avoid areas where you could get swept off your feet in stormy weather, and if you’re visiting the coast, be sure to visit a lifeguarded beach during the summer months’

Peter also praised the legions of volunteers who give up their own time to go to sea to save the lives of others, and the thousands of members of the public who donate the funds necessary to enable the RNLI charity to continue its work: ‘Of course, none of this would be possible without the huge commitment of the volunteers who crew our lifeboats, and of the extended family of supporters who facilitate that.

‘From spouses and children, right through to considerate employers who allow their staff to leave at a moment’s notice to launch lifeboats, they all deserve a huge thank you from the RNLI.’

Among the notable rescues and RNLI news off the coast of East Anglia were:

  • Hunstanton RNLI hovercraft rescued three young girls found clinging to marker buoys in a bid to stay afloat in the water after being cut off by the tide. All three were distressed, but unharmed. See story and video here
  • RNLI beach lifeguards in Cromer saved the life of a boy who was caught in a rip current. See story and video here
  • Clacton RNLI had a busy time on the day of the town’s air show, launching a total of five times, including a helping a girl who had broken her arm. See here
  • The Duke of Kent officially opened Southend-on-Sea RNLI’s new onshore boathouse in the summer. See here
  • Lowestoft RNLI and the RAF SAR helicopter operating from Wattisham assisted a diver who was suffering from ‘the bends’. See here
  • Southwold RNLI assisted in the rescue of 85 swimmers taking part in an organised event who got into distress in strong tides. See here

Reflecting on a busy year, Peter added: ‘As long as people are in distress, the RNLI will be there to help. We provide a ring of safety from the beach right out to the open seas. But the first class training and the equipment needed to do the job cost money, and we are very fortunate to have such a dedicated support network among the general public. As a charity, the RNLI simply could not continue helping those in distress and saving lives without that support.’

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