RNLI lifeguards starting patrolling beaches in 2001 following a successful pilot scheme. The trial project took place during the Summer of 2001 from May to September, operating in five local authority areas and covering 26 popular beaches in south-west England. Since then, it has grown with over 1,000 RNLI lifeguards patrol over 200 beaches around the UK including Northern Ireland.
RNLI lifeboat volunteers or search and rescue helicopter crews can respond to a situation within minutes and often save lives close to the shore. But, at the beach, every second counts.
For the best chance of survival, you need someone on the beach who can see the dangers develop: someone who can prevent accidents before they happen and respond instantly if they occur.
RNLI lifeguards are qualified in lifesaving and casualty care, highly trained, strong and fit. They must be able to swim 200m in under 3½ minutes, and run 200m on sand in under 40 seconds. However, a good lifeguard rarely gets wet - 95% of a lifeguard's work is preventative.
RNLI lifeguards monitor sea conditions and set up the appropriate flags, watch the people on the beach and offer safety advice both on the beach and in classrooms through our education programmes.
All of the RNLI lifeguards are equipped not only with the best training but the best equipment, so that they are able to deal with any situation. This includes:
- inshore rescue boat (IRB)
- rescue watercraft (RWC)
- patrol vehicle
- all-terrain vehicle (quadbike)
- rescue board
- rescue tube
- VHF radio
- first aid responder bag