Night-time launch for Ilfracombe RNLI volunteers.

A crew member suffering a medical emergency was evacuated from the MS Oldenburg on Monday night.

Lifeboat volunteers came to the man's aid after he tripped and injured his head while the ship was moored alongside the pier in Ilfracombe harbour.

Shipmates were unable to use the gangway to bring the casualty ashore due to the large swell in the harbour and raised the alarm shortly after 10.30pm.

Six members of the Ilfracombe RNLI navigated the dark water of the harbour and were soon aboard the Oldenburg, a ship often used by RNLI volunteers on training exercises.

They used a stretcher to bring the casualty to the inshore lifeboat, Deborah Brown II, and back to the slipway for transfer via ambulance to North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple.

Ben Langham, volunteer helm for tonight's shout, said he was impressed with his crew.

"It is unusual to take so many crew members on an inshore lifeboat shout, but in this situation it was very helpful.

"The fact that it was a medical emergency meant that the more hands we had to help, the easier our task would be, and not having far to go meant we were safely able to take more volunteers.

"This shout shows how important our casualty care training courses and exercises are. Our crew members are often the first responders in a medical emergency at sea, and therefore our training has to be of the highest standard.

"When you are at sea, an ambulance is often a fair distance away, so the situation we had on this shout, being within moments of the shore and the ambulance, was unusual.

"I'm sure the casualty was pleased that he didn't have too far to go on the stretcher, however.

"Being familiar with the location certainly helps in any situation, but in the case of a medical emergency it can save vital minutes and certainly can save lives.

"The exercises that we do on board local vessels like MS Oldenburg is a vital part of our lifesaving training, and we are grateful that the crew are so supportive and allow us to use their ship.

"Last night it definitely made a difference to one of their crew members."