Lerwick and Aith lifeboats have this week been fitted with video cameras in a move that will allow the public to see what actually goes on when they are called out.
In addition the lifeboats are to be provided with a camera helmet, worn by a member of the crew, to provide close-up shots of the action. The two crews were trained to use the cameras on Monday and Tuesday, and the Aith lifeboat will be trying out the new equipment at the forthcoming Scalloway Gala.
The provision of video cameras is being rolled out throughout Scotland, and by the end of the year half the country’s lifeboat stations should have them.
Scottish divisional media relations manager Richard Smith said: “This is really new, it adds a new dimension. For the first time the RNLI is able to show the public what actually happens when we go out on a shout. We will be able to tell the whole story in a video and photos will be available from the video.”
Footage from the cameras will be used in training exercises and for the RNLI website and TV documentaries, he said – eight such documentaries from RNLI stations are to be shown on ITV, starting in September.
Mr Scott stressed that the cameras are not there to act as “big brother” and would not compromise safety. The camera fixed to the top of the boat pans around and the helmet camera, which costs £2,500, requires nothing more than for the operator to switch it on.
Crews retain ownership of the footage and edit their work. The results are “stunning”, Mr Smith said, and have proved popular with the public – a recent video on the RNLI website of a dog being rescued from a cliff by the Aberdeen lifeboat has been watched more than 1,000 times.
All the cameras are being funded by the voluntary donations the RNLI receives.