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RNLI unveil two new Water Rescue Craft

23rd May 2009

The RNLI have unveiled two new Rescue Water Craft (RWC) to help save lives on Lough Erne. The RWCs will be the first of their kind in the Irish division and have already proved their worth after being involved in three callouts since their arrival on station.  They are being introduced as an extension to the lifesaving capability already provided by Enniskillen’s two Atlantic 75 lifeboats.

The RWC is a jet ski operated and equipped for search and rescue.  Being water jet driven the hazard of the propellers is removed and the shallow water capability enhanced.  The two rescue craft will be housed alongside the existing Atlantic lifeboats in Enniskillen at Lough Erne Yacht Club and Carrybridge.  The crafts will be launched and recovered from the water using 4X4 quad bikes and can go on a callout independently or with the lifeboats.  

The special rescue water craft can carry two crewmembers and are capable of 65 miles per hour.  However the real benefit of the two craft is in providing enhanced search and rescue capability to the lifeboats on the Lough. In their role at the station the RWCs can enter shallow water and navigate the small islands, which populate Lough Erne.  Each vessel is equipped with basic first aid equipment, GPS and VHF radio and following modifications they will be capable of operating at night.

The RWCs are on a 12-month evaluation and following their evaluation the RNLI may look at putting them on service at other stations in the division.  The primary function of the RWCs will be to locate and stabilise a casualty and call for the lifeboat to recover them.  However, they are capable of carrying a casualty short distances if required.  

Commenting on the new additions for the RNLI in Enniskillen, Lifeboat Operations Manager Sam McCreery says, “ We are delighted to be the first station in Ireland to trial these new craft.  Enniskillen has always been a unique station in the RNLI, operating as it does inland and at two separate locations.  Lough Erne is a huge body of water and attracts thousands of people every year and our role as volunteer crewmembers with the RNLI is to get to people in trouble as quickly as possible.  Now with two Atlantic 75 lifeboats and two Rescue Water Craft on the Upper and Lower Loughs, we will be able to enhance the coverage on the lough and respond to every type of emergency in the fastest time possible.”

Owen Medland, RNLI Training Divisional Inspector has been overseeing the arrival of the RWCs and the subsequent training for the crewmembers. “ The RWC operators all come from the lifeboat crew and have undergone the RYA Personal Watercraft training as well RNLI instruction.  They have also been busy with on station practice involving various search and rescue drills and familiarisation with the vessels.  RNLI lifeguards on selected UK beaches already use the vessels, which have proved very successful in life saving.

Enniskillen RNLI’s lifeboats and new Rescue Water Craft will be on view to the public on the Enniskillen Water Safety Day Saturday 23rd May 2009 along with other search and rescue organisations and resources. Team

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