The guest speaker at the last meeting of the Warsash Residents Association was Keith Thomas, who is the chairman of Gosport & Fareham Inshore Rescue Service, who provide emergency lifeboat services on the Solent and in Portsmouth Harbour.
GAFIRS is available for call-out by HM coastguard 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year in any weather conditions.
Founded in 1969, GAFIRS covers the Fareham and Gosport coastline, and is one of the seven independent sea rescue centres in the Solent area. GAFIRS has 94 active members, including 22 boat crew. They also have a cadet team for young members aged from 14 to 17 who are trained in lifesaving skills.
Keith said that when a tasking is received GAFIRS can muster a crew and launch a boat in an average of about 12-13 minutes and their lifeboat can reach most casualties within 15 minutes of being launched.
The GAFIRS lifeboat, a 9.5m RIB, has a crew of three and can carry up to 12 survivors.
The boat crew are trained in basic first aid and carry a first-aid kit, oxygen and a defibrillator. They also have a spine board available for dealing with spinal injuries.
GAFIRS responds to around 100 incidents a year which include boats stuck on mud flats, flat batteries and engine failures, broken masts and sails, missing persons and serious injuries. While most local people who live by the Solent take care on the water, less experienced sailors, who often come from further inland, do not always understand how dangerous the sea can be.
GAFIRS is active in sea-safety education and gives a simple message: carry the right equipment, especially a lifejacket, have your boat and equipment properly serviced and learn how to use it correctly.
In an emergency, call for assistance with a Mayday message on VHF channel 16, or dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
To raise sea-safety awareness GAFIRS are holding their annual Lifeboat and Blue Light Services Day on Sunday, July 17 at their lifeboat station at Stokes Bay in Gosport.
Every penny donated is used to deliver a completely independent service with no members taking any fee.
To donate to the organisation, go to gafirs.org.uk.
At the next meeting of the Warsash Residents Association at Victory Hall, Warsash, on Wednesday, February 17, the guest speaker will be Rob Heard from the Older Drivers Forum.
New members are always welcome.