At one time in United States history, the US Live-Saving Service was a government agency designed to rescue people (both sailors and passengers) from wrecked vessels. This agency was started in 1848 and lasted until 1915, when it was merged with another agency to form our current US Coast Guard.
While talking about an antiquated government agency might sound old and boring, it's really not. I mean, think of all those cool water rescues on TV that the Coast Guard preforms. They look something like this:
Now imagine those same rescues taking place 150 years ago. No radios. No helicopters. No high-powered speed boats. Just a crew of seven men in either a surfboat or lifeboat, sent to save a whole vessel full of people. It rather looked something like this:
No, the men in these old photographs and paintings were not suicidal, or crazy, or inebriated. They were United States Life-Savers and they were actually paid to go out into rough wild seas, sea so dangerous ships were wrecking and people were drowning. Of course, with a team of United States Life-Savers at work, considerably fewer people were drowning on wrecked vessels.
Life-Savers trained every day to go out into stormy seas. They swam. They practiced rowing and sailing. They even practiced capsizing their boat in the water and then righting it again so that they would be prepared were that situation ever to occur during a rescue.
They also had special equipment. The larger of the two boats used by the Life-Saving Service (called a lifeboat), was self-righting and self-bailing. So if the boat capsized or took on water, it would uncapsize and bail itself out. The suits life-savers wore were rubber and rather similar to modern day wet-suits in that they provided mobility and allowed exposure to cold water without endangering the wearer. And for close-to-shore rescues, life-savers even had equipment that allowed them to pull people from wrecked vessels without the life-savers ever leaving the beach.
I'll have more information for you about the Life-Saving Service next month, but I wanted to introduce everyone to this little-known, yet very important agency of the past. Have a blessed day, and thanks for stopping by the Christian Fiction Historical Society!
*****A mother of two young boys, Naomi Rawlings spends her days picking up, cleaning, playing and, of course, writing. Her husband pastors a small church in Michigan’s rugged Upper Peninsula, where her family shares its ten wooded acres with black bears, wolves, coyotes, deer and bald eagles. Naomi and her family live only three miles from Lake Superior, where the scenery is beautiful and they average 200 inches of snow per winter, and she is looking forward to the release of her next book, in January 2014. For more information about Naomi, please visit her website at www.NaomiRawlings.com.
Okay, you left me hanging..."And for close-to-shore rescues, life-savers even had equipment that allowed them to pull people from wrecked vessels without the life-savers ever leaving the beach.'ReplyDelete
I want to hear more about that in a future post. This was a very interesting look at these Life-Savers.
Thanks for sharing and God bless.
We had the life savers also and still have them on the beaches in Australia. They form an important part and many of them were volunteer also and still are.ReplyDelete
brave men! this sounds like a fascinating study. thanks for the introReplyDelete
Thanks for the short look into history! I have learned so much since starting to follow this blog. Thanks to you, Naomi and all the other authors who spend so much time researching to be able to write all those incredible books!ReplyDelete
This was very interesting, I also have learned so much since finding this blog. Naomi, I find comfort in knowing you received more snow than we had!ReplyDelete
Wow, those were brave people...it's one thing to try to help with the best technology and services available but to try it 'old school" is simply amazing...what a group of people. truckredford(at)gmail(dot)comReplyDelete
Wow, I had no idea! Very cool, Naomi.. can't wait to learn more. :-)ReplyDelete
Naomi, we are neighbors.....sort of! I'm in the lower peninsula, but I have family up in the U.P. They're not real thrilled with the amount of snow they get in the winter! ;)ReplyDelete
So interesting, the Life Savers were dedicated and courageous.ReplyDelete
worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com
That was very interesting information. Perhaps, you should write a book around them. I love reading stories with these unusual tidbits. It makes reading even more fun.ReplyDelete
Very cool, Naomi! My brother is a retired Coast Guard officer. I did a lot of research on the USCG when I wrote my book "Always Ready," but it's a contemporary, and I didn't go into the historical end of it, and I did not know about the Life-Saving Service. Thanks for a fascinating post.ReplyDelete
Wow, I had no clue it started way back in 1840s! Love this info. :)ReplyDelete
I "tip my hat" to the brave members of the Coast Guard, & even more so, to the members of the Life-Saving Service - which operated without the modern equipment that we have now.ReplyDelete
Naomi, you must live in a beautiful area! I have lived in 2 different parts of Michigan (the last in St. Joseph, on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan - loved it!)& have always wanted to experience the beauty of the Upper Peninsula.