Follow the lights, smugglers urge refugee boats leaving Turkish shores on the perilous journey across to Lesvos. It’s left to Greek islanders to rescue them.
The volunteer organisation HRT had been the island’s main emergency response outfit for years, pulling people off the mountains in the winter; providing first aid at football matches; retrieving fishermen whose engines cut out.
In the last 18 months, the HRT has been trained and equipped by the British Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), and now there are over 40 local volunteers on the roster, all ready to respond 24/7, within 30 minutes, to emergency call-outs from the Greek Coastguard.
They use two reconditioned Atlantic 75 lifeboats gifted by the lifesaving charity, boats that have already saved many lives in the UK. A container on Mytilini marina contains state-of-the-art dry suits neatly hung on coat-hangers; helmets; lifejackets, a place to change and plan for missions. And there is British lifesaving expert, Alex Evans, who has spent six months living on Lesvos, mentoring the volunteers in everything from CPR to how to helm a boat.
Produced, written and directed by Jane Labous and Shona Hamilton for RNLI International
Edited by Shona Hamilton