Eastbourne was the second busiest coastal station in the country last year – partly due to the pier blaze which saw RNLI crews help firefighters tackle the flames.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) released its figures for Sussex in 2014 this week.
As well as being the second busiest coastal station, Eastbourne crews were the busiest in the county – launching 120 times in 2014 and rescuing 131 people.
Allen Head, divisional operations manager for the RNLI, said, “Yet again our volunteers have had a very busy 12 months.
“2014 was the warmest year on record for the UK, but conversely the winter storms of January and February brought damaging winds and inland and coastal flooding.
“The former may well have enticed more people on to our beaches and into the water, while the latter no doubt made conditions worse for anyone on or near the sea.”
Allen praised the hundreds of people who carry their pager, downing tools and dropping everything to respond to a call for help day or night, come rain or shine.
“Our volunteer crews are the lifeblood of the RNLI, given the commitment they make,” he said. “Our message is that we will always launch to assist people in distress, but we are also increasingly encouraging people to be mindful of the potential dangers associated with the sea.”
Last year the RNLI ran its national Respect the Water campaign, which aims to reduce the number of coastal drownings.
In addition, the year saw the charity’s Coastal Incident Reduction teams grow in size and scope, seeking to educate and inform members of the public, and prevent them getting into difficulty in the first place.
“Through our lifeboats, lifeguards and safety messaging, the RNLI provides a ring of safety from the beach right out to the open seas,” said Mr Head.
“However, the training and equipment needed to do this costs money, so we are hugely grateful to everyone who supports in whatever way they can.”
In the figures, released on Wednesday, the RNLI revealed lifeboat crews from the eight Sussex lifeboat stations launched on 442 rescue missions last year. Incidents included helping commercial vessels in trouble, distressed fishermen, swimmers, and leisure marine users.
Overall the crew rescued a total of 453 people. Of those, 17 people were given first aid, and nine incidents were classed as “lives saved” – a specific RNLI criteria where a person would have most likely died if not for the RNLI rescuing them.
The figures also show that more than a third of the lifeboat launches in Sussex were after nightfall.
Visit www.eastbournernli.org to find out more about the local lifeboat station and crew.