RNLI Volunteers carry out four multi-agency rescues over Easter weekend

High ‘spring’ tides and the bank holiday brought about four multi-agency rescues over the Easter Weekend for Hoylake RNLI’s volunteer crew with launches on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

The UK Coastguard requested the launch of Hoylake RNLI hovercraft Hurley Spirit at 10:48am on Good Friday (Friday 7 April) to aid a dog walker stuck in mud off Sandy Lane slipway in West Kirby as the tide was flooding in. West Kirby RNLI lifeboat and local Coastguard Rescue Teams were also tasked and as the Hoylake hovercraft was launching, it was reported the casualty had been safely recovered by the West Kirby RNLI crew.

However, the UK Coastguard requested for Hoylake to launch to assist Wirral RNLI Lifeguards who had come to the aid of a group of adults and children cut off by the incoming tide whilst out for a walk along the Hilbre Island chain. Again, West Kirby RNLI safely recovered these casualties to the shore.

Hoylake was then tasked to proceed when it was discovered that the persons rescued were not the originally reported casualties. Alongside West Kirby RNLI, a careful search was conducted around the Hilbre Islands and once it was confirmed all persons had been accounted for, both RNLI crews were stood down.

However, en route back to the station after a busy Friday morning for the Hoylake crew, the hovercraft was sent to its final shout of the day to aid a lone walker and dog trapped by the tide on the sea wall near Dovepoint Road in Meols. The casualty and dog were safely brought on board and as they required no medical assistance, they were flown ashore to the lifeboat station and passed to the Wirral Coastguard Rescue Team for further care.

The bank holiday saw a further shout for the Hoylake RNLI crew, who were requested by the UK Coastguard at 3:56am on Easter Sunday (Sunday 9 April) following a report from a member of the public of a red flare sighting off Hoylake. The Coastguard had also detected a faint ‘mayday’ call through a local radio aerial on VHF Channel 16.

With concerns of persons or a vessel being in difficulty following these maritime distress signals, Hoylake’s all-weather Shannon class lifeboat Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood and her crew launched. An immediate search in the area around the HE2 buoy was conducted using radar, a night vision scope and searchlights to look for any potential casualties.

The Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 936 based at Caernarfon was also tasked and once on scene, the crew began a detailed search of the area by air. The lifeboat made several attempts to call the possible casualty on VHF channel 16 but no response was received. Hoylake RNLI crew continued their search several miles offshore, before carrying out a full search pattern coordinated by the Coastguard back towards the shore.

After the lifeboat and helicopter completed their searches as the daylight of Easter Sunday arrived and with no casualties located, the UK Coastguard Operations Centre at Holyhead concluded the search at 7:20am and both search and rescue assets were stood down.

Hoylake RNLI Coxswain Howie Owen said, “Alongside West Kirby RNLI, Wirral RNLI Lifeguards and the Coastguard, Hoylake RNLI volunteers responded to numerous call-outs over the bank holiday weekend. Tidal cut-offs were the leading cause of our taskings this Easter with all persons thankfully returned to shore safely. As we head towards the summer, we urge the public to always check tide times and weather and to carry a means of calling for help if heading to the coast.”

Howie added: “Our shout to a reported red flare sighting concluded after an extensive search with specialist equipment and no further reports of persons in distress. However, we always encourage anyone who sees a red flare or anyone in difficulty on or around the water to call the Coastguard immediately by dialling 999 or on VHF Channel 16.”

Image: RNLI/Alan Roberts

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