The Thanet RNLI community team has been unable to get out as much as we would have dearly wanted to this year because of COVID restriction. We know that the Thanet community appreciate our proactive initiatives in passing on safety advice to boat owners, coastal walkers, fishermen and others that use the coast around the Isle.
One of the things we are going to do this year, with full social distancing, is support the RNLI with its Christmas fundraising initiative…..the RNLI Reindeer Run.
Two of the team, Andy Mills and Ian Lockyer, will be running a coastal route from Ramsgate RNLI station to Margate RNLI station which is approximately 10 miles. Wearing the obligatory antlers, they will be leaving the Ramsgate station at 11.00am on Sunday, 13th December.
Andy Mills, RNLI Community Safety Officer said, ‘We think it is an excellent way to raise awareness of the good work that the volunteers around our stations do and also raise funds for the RNLI. Volunteer crews at the charity’s 238 lifeboat stations will hope to sit down to enjoy Christmas dinner this year, some always have their festive celebrations cut short as their pagers sound and they leave friends and family and head out to sea.’
Ian Lockyer, RNLI Community Safety Adviser said, ‘Most of my friends would say this is a doddle for me but I would have run a marathon 24 hours before…so it will hurt.’
Our team is often asked what’s the difference between the Coastguard and the RNLI? Her Majesty’s Coastguard (HMCG) – commonly known as the Coastguard – is part of the UK Government’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and are in charge of all maritime and rescue operation’s in the UK.
The Irish Coastguard (IRCG) covers the Republic of Ireland. When you dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ or make an emergency call from a VHF radio and ask for the Coastguard you will be put through to one of the operations centres which are dotted across the UK. They will co-ordinate the response and task the appropriate assets such as lifeboats, Coastguard Rescue Team’s, helicopter and or other blue light services Police, Fire and Rescue; or Ambulance.
Coastguard’s in the operation’s centre can call upon Coastguard Rescue Team’s which are made up of volunteers based all around the coast, who are ready to respond 365 days a year. The teams are highly trained with a specialist skillset in water, mud and cliff rescue; advanced first aid and now trained to search for high risk vulnerable missing persons.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is an independent UK and Republic of Ireland charity. It’s a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service that is a declared asset of the Coastguard to be tasked to an incident. The RNLI is a registered charity that has been saving lives at sea since 1824. It provides an on-call 24 hour lifeboat search and rescue service and a lifeguard service (available during the Summer months) along with a flood rescue capability.
RNLI Lifeboats have faced a summer like now other with statistics revealing a huge increase in the number of people (water users***) requiring assistance by local lifeboat crews compared to the year 2019.
Lifeboat stations see increase in call-outs
Based on incident reports (provisional)** submitted by RNLI lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland, there was a 64% increase in the number of recreational water users assisted by the RNLI. After every emergency call-out an incident return has to be submitted by the station detailing what the incident was about, the location, action taken etc).
Lifeguards reported increase in beach visitor numbers
Lifeguards also reported seeing a significant increase in the number of visitors to beaches around the coast. RNLI lifeguards working on two beaches in Thanet carried out an unprecedented number of rescues -including 24 people rescued in a single day at Ramsgate Main Beach and carrying out a successful CPR on a six year old girl who had collapsed and stopped breathing at Botany Bay.
The Lifeguards also rescued a man in his 50’s at Botany Bay who was out of his depth and being hit against the chalk sea stack to the west of the beach.
On Friday, 31st RNLI lifeguards Neil Morgan (member of our Community Safety Team & Ramsgate Lifeboat crew) and Chris Wilson, patrolling on Ramsgate Main Beach, had to rescue 24 people who were in danger of being swept out to sea by rip currents.
Those rescued included children, adults and the elderly. In one incident, lifeguard Neil Morgan had to dive into the water with his rescue tube after spotting two children who had been caught in a rip current and were being swept towards the harbour entrance. Neil and Chris also escorted a further six children to safety.
In another incident lifeguards took to a rescue ATV (quad bike) to get close to a group of swimmers who were in danger and close to the harbour entrance and persuaded them to come to shore for their safety.
HM Coastguard reported the day as having the highest number of call-outs in four years.
The statistics include people who got into trouble whilst :
Biggest Increase this Summer in incidents involving inflatables
In the South East of England which includes covering 31 lifeboat stations stretching from the Thames to Swanage, saw the biggest increase the summer 2020 (June to August) in incidents involving inflatables.
During 2019 lifeboat stations in the South East launched 20 times to people in difficulty with inflatables and 26 people were helped. In 2020 there were 37 launches and 89 people aided – a 242.3% increase.
The second biggest increase was lifeboat launches to waterside activities which includes:
In 2019 RNLI lifeboats in the South East launched 10 times to these types of incidents and helped nine people, in 2020 there were 14 launches and 28 people helped – an increase of 211.1%.
The growing popularity of paddle boarding during 2020 is also reflected in the figures. In 2019 the South East’s lifeboats launched eight times and four paddle boarders were assisted. In 2020 the number of launches increased to 12 with 12 people also assisted by crews.
Inflatables are not designed for the coast!
The South East RNLI Water Safety Lead Guy Addington, said “the figures highlighted the dangers inflatables can pose at the coast and urged people to leave them at home in the future:
“Inflatables can be great fun, but they are not designed for the beach as it’s easy to get swept out to sea,’ As these figures demonstrate, inflatables are one of the most common reasons our lifeboat crews are called to action during the summer months”.
‘They are particularly dangerous when there are strong offshore winds and there were a number of incidents around the South East this summer where people, in some cases children, suddenly found themselves being swept hundreds of metres offshore. Were it not for our lifeboat crews responding so quickly some of these incidents could easily have resulted in a tragedy. The best place to enjoy inflatables is in an enclosed area such as a swimming pool”.
As the light faded, time was of the essence and with a police helicopter hovering overhead as a marker, the lifeboat was on the scene in 12 minutes and rescued the pair who by that time had become separated from their inflatable. They were cold and distressed and had been in the water for 40 minutes.
On the same day the crew also rescued a seven-year-old girl spotted drifting out to sea on an inflatable lollipop and an 11-year-old on an inflatable dinghy.
Margate & Ramsgate Lifeboats are often called out incidents involving inflatables
Both Margate and Ramsgate lifeboats are also often called to incidents involving inflatables during the summer months, several of which turn out to be beach toys drifting out to sea. Both stations were kept busy during lockdown 1.0 with some days seeing their respective crew pagers going off more than once in a 24 hour period.
‘This is the other big concern with inflatable beach toys,’ explained Guy. ‘Often lifeboat crews are launched to inflatables drifting out to sea because of fears there could be people in the water. Extensive searches are often carried out only to discover the toys have been blown off the beach. This could mean the lifeboat crew are unable to respond to other, perhaps more serious, incidents”.
“With Christmas just a month away we’d urge anyone considering buying their loved one an inflatable to put safety first and make it clear it’s not to be used on the coast,” he added.
The RNLI’s Head of Water Safety, Gareth Morrison, said: ‘Our volunteer crews have been on call throughout the pandemic. This year, they faced a summer like no other.
‘When lockdown restrictions eased, we saw people flock to the beaches to enjoy our coastlines instead of holidaying abroad. But that resulted in a huge number of people getting into difficulty around our coasts, with our lifesavers facing an incredibly busy summer.
‘If you find yourself in trouble at the coast this winter, call ‘999’ and ask for the Coastguard.’
Personal protective Equipment – COVID-19
The RNLI has spent £1.2M on personal protective equipment this year to help keep its volunteers and lifeguards and the public safe during COVID-19, including almost 700,000 face masks, 2.4 million gloves and 4,700 litres of hand sanitiser. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 risk assessments lifeboat fundraising events and shops have had to be cancelled and or shut (including Ramsgate and Margate’s fantastic fundraising teams).
RNLI Lifeboat Crews Still On-Call
RNLI Lifeboat crew have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep people safe as lockdown restrictions eased and people flocked to the coast. The RNLI relies on the support of the public to continue saving lives – and that support is needed now more than ever. The charity has launched its Christmas Appeal. Why not find out more how you can help the RNLI this Christmas. Thanks for reading and stay safe.
**The complete statistics for lifeguards and lifeboats will be available in early 2021.
*** Waterside activities include paddling up to the knees, wading up to the chest, beach combing, cockle, mussel picking (not commercial) cycling, driving (or parked in vehicle) horse-riding, metal detecting, playing games (non-competitive), relaxing and rock pooling.
Welcome to International Men’s DayUK. International Men’s Day (IMD) is celebrated each year on 19th November (this year on a Thursday), world wide in at least 60 countries. An increasing number of organisations and individuals are now supporting IMD making it more inclusive than ever. It is important to celebrate this day as it helps raise awareness towards making a positive difference to the wellbeing of lives of men and boys; and also raising awareness for charities supporting men and boys’ wellbeing.
Search and Rescue Service Call-Outs At the Coast
Lifeboat crews and Coastguard Rescue Teams are called from time to time to help people who may be suffering from a mental health episode at the coast. According to Mental Health First Aid England men are more likely to take their own lives with 16.8 per 100,000 doing so in 2014 compared to 5.2 women per 100,000.
Men Make Up The Highest Rate of Suicide
The highest suicide rate in the UK in 2014 were men aged 45 to 59 years, at 23.9 death’s per 100,000. For comparison in 2014, in Great Britain 1,775 people were killed in road traffic accidents this means that over three times as many people died from suicide in 2014 as road accidents.
In 2018 4,903 men sadly took their own lives (13 per day) Men make up three in every four suicides*.
Getting More Men Talking About Their Mental Health
Our Team are keen to help support the campaign of getting more men talking about their own mental health, suicide prevention and raising mental health awareness as a whole. There is a whole host of organisations and charities with excellent innovative campaigns across the UK that are all helping to get more men talking about this serious issue and helping to sign-post them to support networks, self-help initiatives; and or professional help/interventions. I am sure you will be aware of some of the fabulous work that is being undertaken via social media and the national press.
Barbers Spotting The Signs of Depression
One particular initiative which caught my eye was the excellent ‘Barber Talk’, a bespoke mental health awareness and suicide prevention training programme for barbers. It helps barbers to spot the signs of depression and distress in their clients and then sign-post them to places where they can get help.
More information about the Barber Talk initiative can be found here
It’s Good To Talk
How often do we actually listen properly to a family member, friend or work colleague speaking. The next time someone is chatting away why not put down whatever you are doing and actively listen to what they are saying. It could make all the difference. We appreciate that due to COVID-19 you can’t meet up with friends and or family as you did previously. Why not go ‘old skool’ and pick up the phone give them a ring and have a good old fashioned chat. Zoom and Microsoft Team platforms have also revolutionised family/friends contact during lockdown.
“I’ve Got Their Back”
Alternatively, if you haven’t heard from someone in a while why not give them an email, text or whatsapp message to see how they are. Research shows that blokes always have to have a reason to phone another bloke. Why not find a reason, like “I’ve got their back, I am going to find out how my mate is just because I care”.
In Need of Help?
Whatever you are going through, there is always someone to turn to in the event of a crisis. The old adage ‘A a problem shared is a problem is a problem halved’ is still true today. You can call the Samaritans 24/7 for free on 116 123 and they are non-judgemental, they won’t pressure you and they are there for anyone who needs help. Help is also available through your GP and the NHS. Family and friend(s) networks can also play a vital role in providing help and support when you need to talk.
Thank you for reading this blog and we hope that you found it useful. Please help support International Men’s Day and Mental Health issues by sharing posts via your social media channels where appropriate. Stay safe!
A big ‘Thank You’ to all our lovely followers and the fantastic people out there that help share our blogs on social media. This is hugely appreciated by our team and is essential to helping to get the drowning prevention and water safety messages out to as a wider audience as possible so that we can help prevent drownings and incidents at the coast.
Knowing what to do in the event of seeing someone in difficulty in the water could help save someone’s life. The majority of people will not just stand and watch someone in difficulty in the water. However, if your instinct is to jump in and attempt a rescue this could cost you your life. On a lifeguarded beach the best action is to alert the lifeguards straight away. But, what happen’s if the incident is out of season when the beach doesn’t have lifeguards on duty or you are on holiday and you spot someone who is in difficulty in the water?
During August 2019 a gentlemen very tragically lost his life in Porthmadog, North Wales after entering the water to try and save the life of his children. I am sure you will agree that we all admire the selflessness that drives people to risk their own lives to help others, however, the RNLI’s message is clear “Call for help rather than endanger your own life and the lives of others”.
Mike Dunn, Deputy Director of Education and Research at RLSS UK has provided the following guide
Call the emergency services before you do anything else, so help will be on its way.
Or ask someone else to call while you try to help the casualty. If you’re alone without a phone, find someone who can call for help. Give the following information to the Coastguard Operator if at the coast. Ask for the Fire Service if inland:
Give your location.
Describe the problem.
Tell them the number of people in danger.
Give any additional information that may be useful such as any access issues or hazards.
4. Shout and Signal
From the shore you have a better view of the area than the casualty. Shout and encourage them to stay calm and float. Remind them to kick their legs gently. Once they’ve caught their breath they may be able to reach a lifering in the water, a jetty, or a shallower area of water.
Some parts of the country have rescue boards (pictured above) which contain rescue equipment either a throw bag or a reach pole secured by a digital combination lock. To access this equipment dial ‘999’ ask for the Coastguard at the coast or on the River Thames. For inland water ways (canals, rivers, lakes, loch’s, pools) ask for the Fire Service quoting the identifying number on the rescue board which will allow you access to the emergency equipment.
If there is no public rescue aid equipment, throw anything that will float.
6. Safe Rescue
Before you pull the casualty in, get down on one knee or lie down so you don’t fall in.
Remember, even if your rescue attempts fail, emergency services are on their way. Keep sight of the casualty to help the emergency services locate them quicker.
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