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RNLI's flood rescue teams record busiest year in Devon and Cornwall

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 23, 2013

RNLI crews battle through the waves at Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes

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Lifeguards across the South West handled fewer emergencies last year as poor weather drove people from the region's beaches.

But in contrast, and in keeping with the weather, the RNLI's flood rescue team had their busiest year on record, deploying six times in the South West.

In December volunteers saved the life of a woman who had been washed from her car at Umberleigh in Devon and assisted 12 people caught in flood waters at Lostwithiel, Cornwall.

The total of 10,216 incidents dealt with by RNLI lifeguards was down on 2011 and 2010, while volunteer lifeboat crews in the region launched 1,507 times – 81 fewer times than the previous 12 months.

Andy Hurley, RNLI regional operations manager, said: "The figures illustrate just how dedicated our volunteer crews and our lifeguards are, giving a huge amount of time to saving lives at sea and I thank them and their families for their continuing commitment.

"Call-outs to sailing and power boats with machinery failure are still our core business in the South West, but I'm delighted to say the numbers are down, which I hope means our prevention messages are getting through to people before they go on to the water.

"However we have seen a rise in the number of fishing boats needing our assistance and in rescues of people ashore," he added. "That's folk who are perhaps injured, trapped or cut off by the tide around the sea shore and cliffs."

Although there was a fall in the number of "shouts" in 2012, lifeboat crews rescued 1,609 people, 38 more than in the previous year. RNLI lifeguards assisted 11,670 people, down by nearly 2,000 on 2011.

Mr Hurley said: "Despite the poor weather our RNLI lifeguards have been busy, but the figure of 11,670 people assisted is relatively small when you consider that a staggering nine-and-a-half million people visited the lifeguarded beaches of the South West last year.

"2012 has once again proved the value of the RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews, lifeguards and flood rescue teams.

"Their commitment has been reflected in particular at Port Isaac where three of the crew of the D-class inshore lifeboat have been recognised with RNLI gallantry medals."

The busiest RNLI lifeboat station in the region was Poole, Dorset, with 109 launches, followed by Plymouth with 95 and Torbay lifeboat station with 86. Collectively the three lifeboat station teams rescued 388 people.

The busiest beach was Perranporth, on the North Cornwall coast, where RNLI lifeguards dealt with 615 incidents and assisted 672 people. Second busiest was North Fistral, near Newquay, where the charity's lifeguard's attended 394 incidents, assisting 348 people. Third was Woolacombe, North Devon, with 383 incidents.

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