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.