Awards for bravery in saving life

771 RN Air Squadron © Crown copyright MOD 2011

At any moment one or more individuals, at one or more locations, are engaging in selfless acts of bravery in performance of Search And Rescue. Some of these individuals will be private persons who see a situation and react without thought to their own safety. Many will be personnel serving in a Search And Rescue organization that may be a charity, or an organization operated and/or funded by a government agency.

A great many brave acts go largely unnoticed, but all deserve recognition.

Many Search And Rescue organizations have their own Bravery Award schemes which issue Letters of Commendation and formal Awards and Medals. Some organizations have been established specifically to issue awards. Nations establish their own systems of Bravery Awards. There are also International Bravery Awards, such as the International Maritime Organization Bravery Awards. Organizations, such as the Royal Humane Society, were established to recognize extreme bravery in saving life at sea.

All schemes have in common a limitation on the number of awards made in any period. This means that many acts of bravery do not result in an award and, where a group of people are involved in an incident, where all of them accept personal risk, an award may only be made to one member of the group.

The rarest awards are those issued by International organizations and those highest honours awarded by governments. For individuals who receive such an award, we may be assured that their act of bravery was not only special as a selfless act, but that they demonstrated the most extreme act of bravery and endurance in attempting to save others.

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