Figures released today (Monday 25 January 2010) by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) show an increase of 13 percent in the number of launches carried out by Irish lifeboats last year compared to 2008. The statistics released by the charity show that lifeboats based at the 43 lifeboat stations in Ireland launched 976 times and rescued 1,008 people.
The RNLI is hoping members of the public will respond to the sharp increase in demand for the RNLI’s services by supporting SOS day on Friday 29 January 2010. The charity’s annual fundraising day will see fun and challenging events take place around the country. Funds raised will help the RNLI provide its volunteer lifeboat crews with the training and equipment they need to save lives at sea and selected inland waters. The charity has set a target of €100,000 and is particularly asking people to “ Hunt for the Punt” by searching out and donating their old Irish money.
The busiest lifeboat station last year was Dun Laoghaire in Dublin, where the crew launched 68 times and rescued 92 people last year. The next busiest station was in Northern Ireland where the Bangor lifeboat volunteers launched 55 times, rescuing 69 people. The Aran Islands’ lifeboat in Galway and the Enniskillen stations on Lough Erne were also in demand with 51 callouts each and over 100 people rescued between them. Other lifeboat crews who had high levels of callouts included Crosshaven in Cork with 45 launches and 45 people rescued, and Arranmore in County Donegal with 44 callouts and 32 people rescued. Howth lifeboat crew members in Dublin launched 43 times and brought 70 people to safety.
The RNLI has also outlined the top five reasons for lifeboat launch requests last year. The most common was for machinery failure with 194 of the callouts dealing with this type of incident. A vessel becoming stranded or grounded was the reason for 104 of the lifeboat calls. The third most common was for vessels believed to be in danger or trouble (88 launches), the fourth was to medical emergencies (54 launches) and the fifth was to search for missing people (52 launches). Other launches included 12 to animals in trouble.
RNLI Deputy Divisional Inspector Gareth Morrison said: ‘It’s been another busy year for Ireland’s RNLI lifeboats. It has become clear that more people are using the sea and inland waters for recreation and demand for the lifeboats continues to be high. Our volunteer lifeboat crews train throughout the year to be ready for any callout. However people can prepare themselves so that they can avoid dangerous situations and be prepared if they get into trouble. Always wear a well-fitting lifejacket, tell others where you are going and check engine, fuel and tides. Also don’t rely on a mobile phone to call for help as they can go out of range – use a VHF radio and always carry distress flares. The RNLI carries out free SEA Checks and lifejacket clinics around the country.
He added that ‘ We are a charity that is independent of Government and reliant on the generosity of the public, in what is a challenging financial climate. We hope that people will continue to respond to our fundraising day and our Hunt the Punt appeal. We have a busy year ahead with new lifeboats arriving at Dun Laoghaire, Fenit, Courtown and Kilrush. The new Tamar class lifeboat will also be put on station later in the year at Baltimore, this will be the first of its kind in Ireland. Lifeboat volunteers receive the best training and equipment so that they are continue saving lives.’
For information on RNLI SOS Day log on to rnli.ie/sos or call 1800 789 589 email email@example.com