Today I share several quotations from the book, The U.S. Life-Saving Service, by Ralph Shanks and Wick York:
- The surfmen had a remarkably high success rate and once they were on scene the odds of mariners' survival approached ninety-nine percent. [In its 44-year history, the men of the USLSS responded to more than 28,000 ships in distress, and saved the lives of more than 177,000 people.]
- Sometimes the surfmen would be at sea for hours rowing, enduring cold, hunger and exhaustion.
- Except for the tremendous reward of saving lives, it was a wonder that anyone ever became a surfman. The job was extremely dangerous, poor health too often resulted from the long hours and there was no health care program or long term disability coverage. On top of that the pay was low and pensions lacking. Yet the quality of most USLSS men was high.