The value of the telephone as a means of communication between contiguous stations was lately illustrated. During one of the worst and most destructive storms that ever visited the Atlantic coast a large number of vessels were driven ashore at and near Cape Henlopen. The crews of three life-saving stations were summoned, and their combined labor effected the rescue of a hundred and ninety-four persons from twenty-two vessels. Of these, a hundred and thirty-five were landed with the "breeches buoy." Not one life was lost during the operations. Crews, with their boats and apparatus, are often transported long distances by rail to meet emergencies. On the shore of Lake Superior such a trip was once made a distance of a hundred and ten miles, the railway train running at the utmost possible speed. The spot was reached at midnight, and in the midst of a blinding snowstorm thirty-four persons were brought safely to shore from two stranded vessels.
At the stations shipwrecked persons are cared for with dry clothing, nourishment, and medicines. Often they are exhausted by exposure or hunger, or injured by the accidents of wreck and rescue. Frequently they are to all appearances dead. The record shows that during the existence of the life-saving service there have been treated a hundred and eighteen cases of apparent death. In sixty of these resuscitation was successful, failing in fifty-eight. In a few instances respiration was restored after several hours had elapsed. While the saving of life is the primary object of the service, it has a secondary duty in the saving of property, which runs up into the millions.
Before the service was established no statistics of loss of life were recorded, so that it is not possible to show by comparison the decrease of deaths by shipwreck as the result of the efforts of the life-savers. It is learned from authentic information, however, that upon the Long Island and New Jersey coasts, during the twenty years from 1850 to 1870, the average annual loss of life was twenty-five; while during eighteen years of the service the yearly average has been but seven. No doubt a similar ratio would apply to other points of danger along our coasts. Each successive year shows a better record, as life-saving appliances are more nearly perfected, abundantly attesting the efficiency and value of this branch of Government effort in behalf of its people.