From fleeing the rugby field and evading the hairdressers with a head full of shampoo, RNLI volunteers have been sharing their tales of dropping everything at the sound of their pager.
RNLI lifeboats across Scotland were launched 463 times, assisting 376 people and crucially saving 23 lives last summer.
A third of the launches came in the hours of darkness.
And for volunteers, the unexpected sound of the pager can result in cutting short events such as children’s birthday parties and even departing the rugby field.
Let’s be ‘aving crew
The sight of a man frantically dashing from a pub, chased closely behind by two others could only mean one thing to watching police officers – someone was in trouble.
What the police didn’t know was that Oban lifeboat volunteers David, Finlo and Ian had just sat down with their drinks when their pagers sounded.
Finlo was out the door first, with David and Ian hot on his heels.
Thinking Finlo was being chased the police stepped in and offered him safe harbour in their van. They got their first shock when he asked them to give him a lift to the lifeboat station – and another when David and Ian jumped in too.
David recalls: “We’d barely taken a sip from our freshly ordered ‘orange juice’ when the pagers went off.
“Finlo was still wearing his jacket so ran out of the pub. Ian and I had to get our jackets off hooks under the bar then ran out after him.
“The police were sat quietly around the corner and they saw one guy running out of the pub as fast as he could, then a few seconds later, two guys chasing him.
“The police shot off down the street, overtaking us to ‘save’ Finlo by getting him into their van. We just thought he’d arranged a lift so Ian and I piled into the back as well.
“But the police hadn’t realised we were all crew and thought they’d made the easiest arrest ever.”
He continued: “We had to convince them by showing our pagers and they promptly drove us to the station.
“When we arrived at the station Lorne, the duty coxswain, said: ‘I don’t want to know, just get on the boat.’”
That’s scrum state you’re in!
With lifeboat volunteers on call 365 days of the year, a pager can sound at any time of the day or night, often leading to volunteers arriving in some interesting clothing.
And that was the case for Jacqui Murray from the Lerwick station who arrived shoeless and covered head to toe in dirt.
With some explaining to do, she certainly had good reason as she had just won a league cup match as the captain of the Shetland women’s rugby team when her pager sounded and she had no choice but to depart for the station.
Wash and go!
Lifeboats are known to launch in all weathers, but thanks to Iain Beaton in Portree, the RNLI can now say they launch in all lathers.
Mr Beaton was enjoying his first cut post-lockdown when his pager sounded.
He sprung into action – much to the shock of his hairdresser – and left the shop with a head full of shampoo to spend the next few hours with a very foamy helmet.
He has said that next time he will just ask for a “shampoo and wet”.
Bikes and lifeboat shouts seem to be a recurring theme.
Hugo Martin, from Mallaig, managed a super speedy response to a shout when his pager went off halfway through a training cycle.
Picking up the pace he responded in record time.
His transition from bike to boat was decidedly smoother than one unlucky volunteer in Lerwick.
Racing to the station on his two wheels, it was only on the descent of the steep hill towards the station that he realised his bike’s brakes had failed.
The lifeboat station’s walls did provide him with something to arrest his descent but luckily he was none the worse for wear and still able to attend the shout!
No snooze is good news
With rude awakenings in the middle of the night all too common for lifeboat volunteers and their spouses, you have to feel sorry for one who departed bed when they didnt need to.
The unnamed Shetland crew member hastily departed for the lifeboat station in the small hours, only to discover their pager had malfunctioned and there was no emergency to respond to.
The funny tales from volunteers come as the RNLI launched its Mayday campaign today to encourage those visiting coastlines and the open sea to do so in a safe manner.
As lockdown restrictions ease, the RNLI has said it is expecting more people than ever to book holidays in the UK and Ireland and have urged people to stay safe and avoid trouble in the water.
Supporters are being asked to aid the charity kit out its volunteers in protective equipment by taking part in a Mayday mile.