RNLI crews saved record number of lives in 2012

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MORE men, woman and children were rescued by Scottish-based volunteer lifeboat crews last year than at any time in the 189 year history of the RNLI, it was revealed today.

• RNLI rescued more men, women and children last year than at any other time in their history

RNLI crews saved a record 1,055 lives last year. Picture: PA

RNLI crews saved a record 1,055 lives last year. Picture: PA

• Record 1,055 people rescued by volunteer lifeboat crews

A record 1,055 people were rescued by Royal National Lifeboat Institution volunteers in 2012 in more than 1000 launches from Scotland’s 46 lifeboat stations around the coast - beating the previous record of 1,026 for the highest number of rescues set in 2006.

And the charity’s annual report also shows that the busiest station for the second year in succession was Broughty Ferry, near Dundee, with 103 launches in which 37 people were rescued. The second busiest station - and busiest inshore station - was Queensferry on the Firth of Forth with 66 launches in which a total of 163 people were saved, including a large number of walkers who had become trapped by the rising tide on Cramond island.

The third busiest station was Troon with 56 launches in which 31 people were saved.

An RNLI spokesman said: “Last year was notable for the large number of rescues that took place during darkness, with 386 ‘shouts’ being undertaken by crews at night.The RNLI’s statistics also reveal that 15,450 hours were spent at sea by Scottish crews in 2012. This includes the time spent on ‘shouts’ which totalled 10,671 hours, and time spent on training exercises.

Anstruther, on the east coast, was at sea for 628 hours on emergency calls and this included the dramatic night time rescue of two people from a motorboat driven onto rocks by strong winds in August which has earned one crew member, helmsman Barry Gourlay, a Bronze Medal from the charity.

The annual report also reveals that the RNLI’s newest Scottish station, at Leverburgh in the Hebrides, which opened on a trial basis in May, was called out on emergencies on 11 occasions and rescued 25 people.

The RNLI is due to make a decision on the future of the all-weather station at Leverburgh later this year.

One of the most dramatic rescues during the year was carried out by the volunteers at Arbroath In late November when the lifeboat crew saved the lives of two jet-skiers who had spent more than two hours with a broken jet-ski in freezing waters off the Angus coast. Daylight was fading fast when the Arbroath crew heard the men whistling and shouting for help. They were taken aboard the lifeboat, given first aid, and then airlifted to safety.

And today the two men, Gavin Smith and Ben Thomson, from Dundee, returned to Arbroath lifeboat station to thank the crew for saving their lives.

Mr Thomson said: “By the time Arbroath lifeboat picked us up we were in a really bad way. I just want to express my thanks to the crew as without them I don’t know if I would be here today.”

Andy Clift, the RNLI’s regional operations manager for Scotland, said the record breaking figures underlined the bravery and dedication of the volunteer crews.

He said: “Our volunteers dedicate a huge amount of their time to saving lives at sea. To know that they are on call 24/7, every day of the year, is reassuring for all of us who venture out to sea around the Scottish coast.

‘They spent the equivalent of 643 days on service and on exercise and rescued a record number of people in Scotland in a year. “

He added: “It’s not just our crew who are committed to our charity - they wouldn’t be able to carry out their lifesaving work without the incredible generosity of the public and I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who support the RNLI, whether by giving up their time or by making a donation.”

Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have now saved over 140,000 lives.