2003 record year for rescues – Fishupdate.com

2003 record year for rescues Published:  20 February, 2004

Latest rescue statistics reveal that 2003 was the RNLI’s busiest year on record. Lifeboats around the British Isles launched a record total of 8,047 times (an annual increase of 7%) rescuing 7,815 people – an average of 21 people every day.

The busiest RNLI lifeboat station on the coast was Poole, in Dorset, with a staggering 175 launches between its two lifeboats, resulting in the rescue of 190 people.

RNLI operations director, Michael Vlasto, says:‘The total number of lifeboat launches has increased year on year since 1986 making the 2003 figure more than double the1986 total of 3,724. We believe this trend is due to a number of factors, such as the changing patterns of sea use by the public, improved search and rescue techniques and the dramatic growth in the use of mobile telephones among the public – and particularly for 2003, the long, hot summer.

‘We would not be able to respond to this increased demand without the dedication of our volunteer lifeboat crews, the station personnel who support them and our network of tireless fundraisers. Also, we should not forget the general public, for in its 180th year, the RNLI continues to rely on voluntary donations and legacies to carry out its life saving work.’

The steady increase in the number of rescues is a cause for concern and as such the RNLI is actively pursuing preventative initiatives to reduce the number of potentially life threatening incidents that occur around the coast. These include Sea Check, a programme which aims to help the recreational boating community improve its safety standards; the expansion of the RNLI beach lifeguard service, this year to beaches in North Cornwall; the introduction of more hovercraft, like that already in operation at Morecambe Bay; and the development and roll out of the RNLI’s Confidential Position Reporting System (CPRS) now being trialled in order to help reduce deaths within the fishing industry.

Michael Vlasto continues:‘Launching lifeboats is expensive and carries with it risks to our volunteer crews, which is why the RNLI is committed to preventative work, encouraging all sea users to be as safe as they can at sea.’

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