Lifeboat rescue charity, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), shares statistics of those helped off the shores of the United Kingdom and unveils new equipment to make boat rescues more efficient.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a volunteer-based charity that has been saving lives since 1824, and next year marks 200 years of safer seas around the UK. This charity is run separately from the coastguard and independent of the government but is tasked to carry out rescues from their 238 lifeboat stations across the UK.
The RNLI lifeboats and lifeguards saved 506 lives. Of these rescues, 389 of them were rescued by crews on lifeboats. The lifeboats were launched a total of 9,312 times. The launches made to small boats in the channel equated to about 3% of its total launches for the year.
The RNLI also revealed new “rescue” equipment to help save larger groups of people from the waters of the channel. One of these new pieces of equipment is a “sea staircase” that can help get 20 people out of the water into a vessel in about 90 seconds. This is being tested in both mass casualty and rescue exercises. Another new piece of equipment unveiled by the RNLI includes “horseshoes” which are light packs that inflate and can be used as flotation devices once they make contact with the water. The final piece of equipment unveiled was a large ring flotation device that is adapted from an aircraft life raft. The flooring of the raft was removed to enable more people to hang on while awaiting rescue.
Despite all the good this primarily volunteer-run charity has done, many believe that the services they provide “facilitate illegal immigration”. Some have even gone as far as to accuse the organisation of running a “migrant taxi service” by saving those who are at risk of drowning when crossing the channel in small boats.
The charity does not take political stances but firmly states that the organization plays an important role. ‘The RNLI is unashamed and makes no apology for staying committed to and focused on the purpose we were created for, nearly 200 years ago – to save lives at sea,’ said Mark Dowie, chief executive of RNLI.
With these new pieces of equipment and impassioned volunteers, the RNLI hopes to save more lives, including those of refugees making their way to the UK across the channel.