We all take for granted the 24-hour search and rescue service provided by the RNLI which has been saving lives at sea, including off the Co Mayo coast, since 1824.
How vital a service the RNLI provides for free is clear when you consider that on average 25 people a week were rescued by RNLI lifeboat crews in Ireland in 2013.
We have two RNLI stations in Co Mayo – in Achill and Ballyglass – manned by brave men and women who put their lives at risk every time they answer a distress call at sea off our treacherous coast.
The latest figures from the RNLI reveals that the Co Mayo RNLI lifeboats rescued a total of 48 people in 2013.
A closer look at the statistics shows that Achill lifeboat was launched on 22 occasions in and rescued 30 people in 2013.
The Ballyglass lifeboat crew was called into action on 11 occasions and rescued 18 people in 2013.
And the work of the RNLI crews never stops – the most launch for the Ballyglass lifeboat was on 11/01/2014 at 13:35, according to the RNLI website.
The work of the RNL is not just confined humans and to rescues at sea
Ballyglass Lifeboat Station station operates both an inshore D class lifeboat and the largest lifeboat in the fleet, a Severn class lifeboat.
Achill RNLI station is based in a modern building with top class boat and crew facilities. It was opened in 2004 and is located in Achill Sound.
In 2013, RNLI lifeboats, operating from the 44 lifeboat stations in Ireland, rescued 1,278 people, launching 1,087 times.
The majority of last year’s call-outs were to pleasure craft which accounted for 583 services, while there were 138 launches to fishing vessels.
And the work of the RNL is not just confined humans – and to rescues at sea.
It should also be remembered that RNLI crews help people in difficulty who are classed as ashore, including assisting people who were ill or injured on an island, cliff or the shoreline, where access by lifeboat was the fastest or safest way to reach the casualty.
And lifeboat crews are also called upon to rescue animals as happened in 2013 when four dogs, two sheep, a cow, two whales and a dolphin were assisted.
It is important to remember the bravery and volunteerism of the RNLI crews and the fact that the organisation depends on charitable donations to maintain its rescue service.