RNLI seek thermal imaging camera

PUBLISHED: 21:00 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:34 25 May 2010

LIFESAVERS in Weston have been trying out new pieces of kit - to help them rescue stranded people at sea.

LIFESAVERS in Weston have been trying out new pieces of kit - to help them rescue stranded people at sea.

The RNLI crew has been researching thermal imaging cameras, which could help them find people more easily in dark or foggy conditions.

The equipment ranges in price from £30,000 - £60,000 but the crew hope to find a suitable piece of kit at the lower end of the scale.

The news comes after the deaths of Lee Tompkins, aged 33, and 34-year-old Dave Ellams, who drowned after swimming in the Birnbeck Island area in June 2009.

But lifeboat operations manager Pete Holder said the search for the cameras has not come as a result of the accident.

He said: "Looking back at that situation, I don't think anything would have made a difference.

"I am sure the coastguard and police would agree.

"But it does make you think things through, so we started looking at thermal imaging cameras which may help in a future incident."

The team, based at Birnbeck Island, has been testing four different cameras from two different manufacturers.

Mr Holder said: "Unfortunately some of the equipment is very good, but not suitable for use on a boat out at sea.

"Our crew has been going out and seeing if they can spot one of the team in the water.

"Once we have found something suitable we will start fund-raising and approaching donors for help.

"In the past we have been very impressed with what the police helicopter and the search and rescue teams can do with their kit.

"I am presuming their equipment cost a lot of money, but hopefully we can get something which would go someway to meeting our criteria."

Mr Holder also said his team was grateful for the continued support of Weston residents and businesses.

Anyone wishing to find out more about making a donation can visit www.westonrnli.org.uk

THE cash for a thermal imaging camera was raised over the last summer by kind-hearted sportsmen.

Weston Golf Club's men's and ladies skippers held captain's days, auctions and competitions to raise £7,613.78.

Weston lifeboat operations manager Pete Holder said: "Our crews, all volunteers, could not function without the support of generous people.

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