RNLI text service planned for Sully Island in bid to reduce rescues

RNLI text service planned for Sully Island in bid to reduce rescues

RESCUE: Penarth's D Class lifeboat rescued six people, and two dogs, from Sully Island on Sunday (Pic: RNLI)

DANGEROUS WATERS: Penarth Lifeboat crew were also called out to Sully Island on Saturday (Pic: RNLI)

WATCHFUL EYE: Penarth Coastguard assisted in the rescue (Pic: Penarth Coastguard)

RESCUE: Penarth Coastguard in action (Pic: Penarth Coastguard)

SAND: Penarth Coastguard investigated two white lights in St Mary’s Well Bay on the sandbar (also known as the Sand Spit (Pic: Callum Hamilton)

LIFE SAVERS: Volunteer crew about to leave Penarth Lifeboat Station (Pic: RNLI)

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AN RNLI text service warning visitors about safe crossing times could be introduced to the Sully Island causeway in a bid to stop visitors getting stranded on the island.

A sound warning system, and another traffic lights warning system based on the island, are also being considered by the RNLI in an effort to cut the number of call-outs to the volunteer lifeboat crew.

It comes after several people rescued by Penarth RNLI lifeboat crew failed to spot the traffic lights warning system introduced to the causeway in June this year.

The latest involved six people and two dogs being rescued from the island on Sunday, August 24, after they didn’t see the warning lights.

Nicola Davies, RNLI Community Incident Reduction Manager, said they were still in the evaluation phase for the traffic warning lights, but they were also considering other initiatives to cut down the number of call-outs next year.

She added that something similar to the RNLI text service, which has recently been trialled at Cramond Island in Scotland, could also be introduced to Sully Island.

Under the scheme when members of the public text a number it replies with the latest safe crossing times free of charge.

“The have exactly the same problem with a huge number of call-outs,” she said.

“We have to evaluate them before we bring them to the coast.

“We need to think about how we can improve.”

She added: “We are also thinking of a sounds system. When the amber or red light comes on there could be some sort of audible alarm.”

She added that they would have to consult with local residents in the area, but as research showed most call-outs were before 9pm it shouldn’t be a problem.

The RNLI is currently asking members of the public what they think about the traffic light warning system and reviewing its success during the trial period, which is expected to finish around early October.

Nicola added that once the evaluation phase was finished they would have a better idea about what changes needed to be made to the existing system. These could include more signage, moving the traffic lights and another set of traffic lights on Sully Island.

Penarth Lifeboat and Coastguard crew rescued six people and two dogs who had been cut-off by the tide on Sully Island at around 4.20pm on Saturday, August 24.

Paul Gallone, station manager of Penarth Coastguard, said that they had not seen the traffic light warning sign as they had walked from Sully beach and not been past the kiosk where it is based.

He added: “I think we are roundabout the same number of rescues as last year.

“It’s not had a major impact at the moment, but we don’t know how many we would have had this year if the sign hadn’t been there.

“The best thing we can do is keep raising awareness about the tides and urge people to call us if they are unsure of them.

“Swansea Coastguard will always take calls from the public on their non-emergency number.”

Penarth Lifeboat and Coastguard crew were also called out to a woman that was attempting to cross the Sully Island causeway at 5pm on Saturday afternoon, but on investigation it was discovered that she had gone into the water to cool off and was camping on the island.

Penarth Coastguard was also called out in the early hours of Monday morning (12.10am) to investigate two white lights in St Mary’s Well Bay on the sandbar (also known as the Sand Spit). It was believed to be a boat in trouble, but upon investigation it was two fishermen that were safe and well, and in no need of further assistance.

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