Increase in callouts means busy summer for our lifeboat crews

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THE recent spell of good weather along the Berwickshire coast put added pressure on the region’s lifeboat services, as their summer callout figures have revealed.

Eyemouth lifeboat crews were called into action 14 times this summer, nearly twice as many times as they were needed last year.

Meanwhile, the lifeboats stationed at St. Abbs were called out three times this summer, seeing a halving of their emergency calls comapared to last year.

According to the statistics published by the RNLI, Eyemouth was the ninth busiest lifeboat station in the whole of Scotland.

Richard Smith, a spokesman for the RNLI in Scotland, said: “It can be difficult to find out the reasons why the number of call outs vary from year to year and they can be dependent upon a whole host of factors including weather and the number of holidaymakers to the coastline.

He stressed that saving lives at sea begins with lessons in the classroom, adding: “Among the huge number of RNLI volunteers in Scotland we have volunteers who go into schools and other places to give advice on beach safety, and the public can also obtain free beach safety advice from the RNLI by calling our free hotline on 0800 328 0600.

“We always urge the public to call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard if they are in trouble or they spot someone else in difficulty, and then the Coastguard will alert the appropriate lifeboat and the RNLI volunteers will launch and carry out a rescue.’

He continued: “The RNLI is on call 24/7 and our volunteers are always ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice when the pager goes off and help someone in distress.”

Local MSP John Lamont has thanked the RNLI for their continued work, and said these statistics prove how vital the region’s lifeboat crews are.

He said: “Our lifeboat crews on the Berwickshire coast are made up of many brave men and women who risk their lives to save others. They do an invaluable job, and as these statistics show, they are more needed than ever.

“The lifeboat crew stationed in Eyemouth has been called into action nearly twice as often as last year and along with the lifeboat crews at St. Abbs they helped many people this summer.

“Their efforts are absolutely essential and this increase shows that they are doing a lot of work to keep the Berwickshire coast safe.

But he warned: “What these statistics also show however is that we can do more to teach those visiting the seaside about safety on our coastline. It is concerning that there has been such an increase in incidents. We must always do everything we can to be safer and limit the number of times we need to call upon our lifeboat service.”

He ended on a sombre note: “This has been a busy summer with some serious life saving calls and some tragic outcomes. I would like to thank our crew for their fantastic response to all the call outs. I am very proud of all of them.”

In all, RNLI lifeboats launched in Scotland more than 400 times during the summer, at a rate of more than four a day.

Boats from the RNLI’s 46 stations in Scotland launched a total of 417 times during the months of June, July, August, an increase of 4% compared with the corresponding period in 2011.

Paul Jennings, the RNLI’s divisional inspector for Scotland, said, “Once again our volunteer lifeboat crews in Scotland have shown that they are committed and courageous individuals, on stand by to save lives at sea come rain or shine.

“Behind the crews are a huge team of volunteers, the station management volunteers, shore helpers and fundraisers, to whom we owe our thanks for ensuring that the RNLI can keep on saving lives at sea.”

The RNLI relies entirely upon donations for its upkeep, and if you donate, you can be assured that your money goes where it is needed.

Of every £10 given, a massive £8.50 is funneled directly into saving lives at sea.

The RNLI is currently embarking on a new round of fundraising, aimed at procuring the next generation of water-powered lifeboats. The charity has recently passed the halfway mark, with the aim being £5 million to roll the new boats out across the country.