Heroic RNLI crews in high demand

Chiswick station rescues 138 people in one year

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RNLI lifeboats operating on the River Thames have proved invaluable since their introduction in 2000 and in 2003 the four stations have together launched a staggering 721 times.   This equates to an average of two launches per day, leading to the rescue of 271 people in the capital with Chiswick's lifeboat being launched 235 times, rescuing an incredible 138 people.


RNLI operations director, Michael Vlasto, said “The total number of lifeboat launches has increased year on year since 1986 making the 2003 figure more than double the1986 total of 3,724.   We believe this trend is due to a number of factors, such as the changing patterns of sea use by the public, improved search and rescue techniques and the dramatic growth in the use of mobile telephones among the public – and particularly for 2003, the long, hot summer.


‘We would not be able to respond to this increased demand without the dedication of our volunteer lifeboat crews, the station personnel who support them and our network of tireless fundraisers. Also, we should not forget the general public, for in its 180 TH year, the RNLI continues to rely on voluntary donations and legacies to carry out its life saving work.”


The steady increase in the number of rescues is a cause for concern and as such the RNLI is actively pursuing preventative initiatives to reduce the number of potentially life threatening incidents that occur.   


Michael Vlasto concludes, “Launching lifeboats is expensive and carries with it risks to our volunteer crews, which is why the RNLI is committed to preventative work, encouraging all river and sea users to be as safe as they can.”

March 2, 2004