RNLI statistics reveal area divides to rescue types

The RNLI’s latest figures reveal that in the South West region the majority of call outs were to people out sailing or motorboating. Meanwhile, in Wales and the North West the majority of call outs were to people out walking or running who did not expect to end up in the water.

Alongside the numbers, the RNLI is predicting this summer will be one ‘like no other’ and is calling on people to get involved in its Mayday appeal for much needed funding.

Figures from last summer, classed as 1st June – 31st August 2020, underpin the charity’s concerns for what’s to come with 2021’s staycations. The RNLI in Wales says annual rescue figures show lives saved by lifeboat crews during the summer of 2020 rocketed by 71%.

As lockdown restrictions eased and people flocked to the coast in Wales, RNLI lifesavers saved the lives of 24 people between June and August, compared with 14 lives the previous year.

The latest statistics for 2020 show the RNLI’s volunteer crews at the 30 lifeboat stations between Flint and Penarth launched 918 times, aided 991 people and saved 36 lives. During the summer, RNLI lifeguards on beaches in South Wales, West Wales and Denbighshire in North Wales attended 1,046 incidents and aided 2,673 people.

The numbers also reveals, in the RNLI’s West region (which includes 30 stations in Wales, 11 in the North West of England and five stations on the Isle of Man), that most of call outs were to people out walking and running and not anticipating ending up in the water.

RNLI lifeboats launched 112 times to people requiring help after slipping or falling – significantly higher than anywhere else in the UK and Ireland.

People becoming cut off by the tide is a huge cause of concern across Wales and the West, with 115 lifeboat calls out to people finding themselves stranded by the tide. The figure is almost double the national average.

The summer of 2020 saw a rise in popularity of people paddle-boarding and requiring rescue, with 88 incidents last year.

“We all saw the images of packed beaches around the coast as restrictions lifted last summer, which meant a hugely busy season for the RNLI in Wales and the West as a whole,” says Stuart Wallace, RNLI lifesaving lead for the west. “As another summer approaches, we know that our lifesavers face more huge challenges in keeping everyone safe.”

Walkers in trouble in North West

RNLI figures also reveal North West RNLI lifeboats launched 400 times in 2020, aiding 240 people and saving 17 lives. They attended 846 incidents and aided 9,624 people. Many of those who were rescued were simply out enjoying a walk and had unexpectedly got into trouble.

But Alan Walker, a windsurfer dramatically plucked from the sea by Fleetwood RNLI, says his recent rescue made him realise how vital the RNLI is.

“I had been in the water for nearly two hours and was starting to feel pretty exhausted,” says Walker. “Seeing the lifeboat come towards me was an immense sense of relief. I’m an experienced windsurfer and never thought I’d have to call for help, but it’s hugely reassuring to know there are people willing to drop everything and come to rescue a complete stranger in trouble. I have nothing but gratitude for the volunteers of Fleetwood RNLI.

“I can imagine how the pandemic has hit the charity hard and would like to see people doing what they can, to ensure the crews can continue answering calls for help. The RNLI shop has obviously been closed and one of the ways fundraising has been hit. I’m thrilled it’s been able to open again but would also love to see people coming up with their own ideas this Mayday to support these brave volunteers.”

Walker recently met his rescuers and re-opened the RNLI shop, which was forced to close due to Covid restrictions. He is now calling on people to support the charity’s Mayday Mile, so the volunteer crews can continue saving lives in this North West.

South West sees increase in kayak incidents

The 33 lifeboat stations in the South West launched 1,291 times, aided 1,225 people and saved 30 lives, up on the 29 lives saved in 2019.

During the summer, RNLI lifeguards on beaches across the region attended 6,287 incidents and aided 9,179 people and saved 56 lives.

The latest figures show in the RNLI’s South West region the majority of call outs were to people out sailing or motorboating. RNLI lifeboats launched 290 times to people out on the water on sailing or motor boats – one of the highest figures in the UK and Ireland.

Figures also show that the number of incidents involving people kayaking and canoeing was 33% above the national average in the south west, and incidents involving paddleboarding were 25% above. 74 lifeboat calls out were to people finding themselves in trouble on these craft in 2020.

Nationally, the summer of 2020 saw a big increase in the call outs to swimmers in trouble, with 152 service calls for volunteer crews.

Mayday appeal

This year with more people expected to be holidaying close to home, the RNLI predicts a summer like no other.

And this is why, says Stuart Wallace, “we’re now the ones sending out our own Mayday call and asking for help.

“Our annual Mayday fundraising campaign is our call for your support to help keep you and your family safe at the coast this summer.”

The lifesaving charity is calling for people to support its Mayday campaign to raise funds to ensure volunteer crews can continue to save lives at sea.

Images courtesy of the RNLI.

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