Tynemouth and Blyth RNLI lifeboat crews train with Coastguard Rescue Helicopter
Lifeboats News Release
PASSERS-BY on the coast near St Mary's Island would have been excused for thinking that a major sea rescue mission was taking place on Sunday afternoon but the spectacle involving four RNLI lifeboats and a Coastguard Rescue Helicopter was in fact a training exercise.
The exercise involved 15 volunteer crew members from Tynemouth and Blyth RNLI lifeboat stations and the four crew on board Coastguard Rescue Helicopter '912' based at Humberside Airport.
The Sikorsky S92A helicopter left its North Lincolnshire base to rendezvous with the lifeboats a mile east of St Mary's lighthouse at 2:15pm.
The main element of the exercise was to practice winching the helicopter winchman on and off the lifeboats, with different techniques being needed by the crews of the three different types of lifeboat, and different techniques needed by the helicopter winchman and pilot in carrying out the manoeuvres.
After each lifeboat had carried out their individual training, the exercise was deemed to have been a great success and as the helicopter went to refuel at Newcastle Airport before returning to its base, the RNLI lifeboats returned to their station on the rivers Blyth and Tyne.
Adrian Don, Tynemouth RNLI spokesman, said: 'Our volunteer crew members often work with Coastguard Rescue helicopters when recovering casualties from the sea or vessels so it's vital that we train to make sure we get the skills and techniques right every time as there's no room for mistakes. Exercises like this are vital to ensure our volunteers are fully prepared for the real thing.
'We hope the exercise made an impressive sight for anyone watching, and perhaps they might spare a thought for our RNLI volunteer crews who will be on call 24/7 throughout Christmas and the New Year.
Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.