Bottle buoys put to test in trial rescue on Cromer Pier

RNLI International and engineering teams testing their bottle buoys from Cromer Pier. Left to right,

RNLI International and engineering teams testing their bottle buoys from Cromer Pier. Left to right, RNLI engineer Rob Debbage, Stu Thompson from RNLI International Development team, Cromer RNLI mechanic Paul Watling.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A rescue exercise has been staged to test the use of plastic bottles as lifesaving devices.

RNLI International and engineering teams testing their bottle buoys from Cromer Pier. RNLI lifeguard

RNLI International and engineering teams testing their bottle buoys from Cromer Pier. RNLI lifeguard and trainer for North Norfolk Surf Life Saving Club, Jo Thompson, acting as a casualty during the testing.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Bottle buoys were cast into the sea off Cromer Pier during a trial of the innovative flotation aid.

RNLI International and engineering teams testing their bottle buoys from Cromer Pier. Left to right,

RNLI International and engineering teams testing their bottle buoys from Cromer Pier. Left to right, Cromer RNLI mechanic Paul Watling, RNLI engineer Rob Debbage and Stu Thompson from RNLI International Development team.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Three swimmers used the buoys to try to stay afloat as part of an exercise carried out by the RNLI.

It is hoped the device, which consists of three bottles around a central core, can help to reduce deaths from drowning in developing countries.

Stuart Thompson, from the RNLI's International Development team, had previously taken part in tests of the bottle buoys in Bangladesh earlier this year.


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Mr Thompson said: 'The trial went really well – we had some empty bottles thrown in and others filled with water.

'This would not be something we would be using in the UK with our fairly sophisticated search and rescue services.'

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Lifesaving resources vary from country to country, but in some there are no rescue services at all.

He added: 'The RNLI International Department is working with a number of different solutions to tackle that problem.'

The trial aimed to check the durability of the device in sea conditions when thrown from various distances.

If further tests prove successful the bottle buoys could be in use within a year.

Cromer Lifeboat Station mechanic Paul Watling said: 'The bottle buoys were very good. I would not have thought it possible for such a simple piece of equipment to work so well

Originally created out of wood by a carpenter in Bangladesh, it is believed a plastic version could easily be potentially mass produced for relatively little cost.

The bottle buoy was thought up by student James Benson, who came up with the idea, built a prototype, and entered an International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) competition.

Have you got a Cromer story? Email miles.jermy@archant.co.uk

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