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Displaying items by tag: RNLI

The RNLI has been working with partners behind the scenes through the challenges of lockdown to recruit, train and prepare their lifeguards for what is expected to be another busy summer on Northern Ireland’s beaches.

The charity will deliver their usual lifeguard service across the Causeway Coast and in County Down this year, in its standard phased approach. Five beaches on the Causeway Coast will go on service for the Easter period, with a daily patrol from Good Friday, 2 April to Sunday, 11 April. RNLI lifeguards will then start a weekend service on the same beaches along with Tyrella in county Down from Saturday 1 May, prior to the full-time daily season starting on all 11 beaches on Saturday 26 June.

In 2020, RNLI lifeguards in Northern Ireland responded to 225 incidents and came to the aid of 285 people, six of whom were lives saved.

Lifeguards responded to a range of incidents and performed various actions including water rescues, casualty care and minor first aid as well as helping to reunite missing children with their families.

During last year’s season, there were approximately 358,412 visitors to RNLI lifeguarded beaches. In addition to rescues, lifeguards carried out thousands of preventative actions to keep visitors safe. This work included providing safety advice to people on weather and sea conditions as well as conducting timely interventions to ensure visitors were on the safest area of the beach and in the correct flag zone for their specific activity.

Speaking ahead of the Easter period which will see a daily patrol from 11am to 7pm on Benone, Portstewart, Portrush East, Portrush West and Whiterocks until Sunday, 11 April, Karl O’Neill, RNLI Lead Lifeguard Supervisor, said:

‘RNLI lifeguards are at the forefront of the charity’s lifesaving work, offering preventative safety advice to visitors and rescuing those in difficulty in the water. Not only do they receive the best training but the best equipment too, so they are able to deal with any emergency situation as professional first responders.

‘Each year the RNLI works in partnership with our local authorities and landowners to set up and roll out the lifeguard service, which is complex in normal times even without the challenges of doing so during a pandemic. However, we have been here before, and with the added benefit of being able to plan ahead, we have developed contingencies should things change.

‘The protocols and measures introduced last year because of coronavirus will continue. We are working with local authorities and landowners, who ask us to provide a lifeguard service on their beaches, to make sure the environment for lifeguards to return to is safe. We will continue to monitor the risk to our people and the public in relation to the pandemic.’

The daily full-time seasonal service will be extended to Downhill, Castlerock and Ballycastle on the Causeway Coast and to Murlough and Cranfield in county Down from Saturday 26 June.

The RNLI is encouraging the public to follow government advice on social distancing, travel and contact with others when visiting the beach to keep themselves and lifeguards safe.

Michael Thompson, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, said: ‘RNLI lifeguards play a vital role in keeping beach visitors safe, but they can’t be everywhere, so will be supported by the charity’s 24/7 lifeboat service and water safety work. This comprehensive water safety education programme involves working with partners, local communities and the public to help everyone enjoy a safe visit to the coast.

‘Coastal areas provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space but it is important to remember it can be an unpredictable and dangerous environment, particularly during spring and early summer when air temperatures are warm but water temperatures remain dangerously cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock. We’d therefore remind anyone entering the water to take extra care and avoid unnecessary risks as early season conditions are more challenging.

‘Whatever your chosen activity though, basic precautions can greatly reduce the risk of getting into difficulty, and also improve your chance of being found quickly should you need rescuing. For activities like kayaking and paddleboarding we’d recommend you carry a means of calling for help on you, such as a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch, and ensure you are wearing the right kit. A wetsuit will keep you warm and help you float in an emergency but wearing an appropriate buoyancy aid or lifejacket is still vital. For open water swimmers and dippers, please also remember to acclimatise slowly and be visible with a bright hat.’

The RNLI is urging anyone choosing to visit the coast to make sure they keep themselves and their families safe by following beach safety advice along with the government’s advice on travel and social distancing:

Beach safety advice

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags
  • Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float.
  • In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

You can keep up to date with relevant water safety advice on social media by searching #RespectTheWater so that you can have an enjoyable and safe time at the coast.

Published in Water Safety
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Aran Islands RNLI’s volunteer crew were asked to launch their all-weather lifeboat from Inis Mór last night (Sunday 21 March) for a local man on the neighbouring island of Inis Meáin who sustained a facial injury and was in need of further medical attention.

The lifeboat launched under coxswain John O'Donnell and a full crew and headed straight for Inis Meáin. Conditions at the time of launching were good, with calm seas, a slight breeze and clear visibility.

Once at the pier in Inis Meáin, the patient was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat by the volunteer crew.

Following all strict Covid-19 health and safety guidelines, the lifeboat then processed straight for Rossaveal Harbour on the mainland and the waiting ambulance.

Speaking after the callout, O’Donnell said: “There was a quick response time by the volunteer crew to get the patient to the medical attention needed. The crew never hesitate to answer their pagers when they go off.

“We would like to wish the patient a speedy recovery.”

The callout came just days after the lifeboat crew were tasked with a double medevac amid poor visibility last Monday, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI’s volunteer crew launched both lifeboats this weekend to assist seven people in two separate incidents

Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was launched this afternoon (Sunday 21 March) following a request from the Irish coast guard at 4.10 pm, to assist five people on board a motorboat that had reported engine failure and was adrift close to the shore in Killiney Bay

The lifeboat was launched under Coxswain Adam O’Sullivan with five crew members on board and made its way to the scene on arrival at 4:35 pm the crew could see the vessel was drifting towards Killiney Beach, and quickly assessing the situation the crew decided to take the vessel in tow, they then proceeded to bring the vessel back to Dun Laoghaire Marina.

Also yesterday (Saturday 20 March) the station's inshore lifeboat was launched at 2:34pm under Helm Alan Keville and two crew to an incident just south of Sorento Point in Dalkey where two people on board a rigid inflatable boat had reported to the Irish Coast Guard that they also had suffered engine issues onboard, the lifeboat’s volunteer crew took the vessel in tow and returned it to Dun Laoghaire Marina.

Dun Laoghaire RNLI's All-Weather Lifeboat assisting vessel in Killiney BayDun Laoghaire RNLI's All-Weather Lifeboat assisting a small speedboat in Killiney Bay

All onboard the stricken vessels were wearing lifejackets with no medical attention required.

The Weather conditions at the time of both incidents were described as good with a light wind and good visibility.

Speaking following the call out, Adam O’Sullivan, Dun Laoghaire RNLI lifeboat Coxswain today said: ‘The people on board the vessel took the correct steps by calling for help once they knew they were having issues onboard it is also always great to see everyone wearing their lifejackets. I would like to take this opportunity to remind everybody to make sure that their vessels are checked and in working order before taking to the water. At this time of year, these checks are of great importance with vessel engines and safety equipment having not being used over the winter months.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The volunteer crew at Newcastle RNLI in Co Down returned to sea recently after normal training exercises had to be curtailed due to Covid-19.

While the station has remained fully operational throughout the pandemic and volunteers have remained on call 24/7, training has been limited for Northern Ireland’s RNLI crews.

The crew took their first training session in daylight hours in Dundrum Bay while the second exercise was at night. The volunteers all wore the necessary COVID-19 PPE as well as their usual seagoing suits and lifejackets during the training.

The Mersey class all-weather lifeboat Eleanor and Bryant Girling was given a timely workout on both occasions, which provided an opportunity for the crew members to put their training and lifesaving skills into practice.

Speaking following the exercises, Newcastle RNLI coxswain Nathan Leneghan said: “Maintaining our lifesaving service while keeping our people safe continues to be the RNLI’s main priority.

Newcastle RNLI volunteers on their recent night-time exercise

“Exercises form an important part of our work, allowing our lifeboat crews to maintain their skills and ensure they are always prepared for what they face out at sea.

“In the daylight exercise, we went on a local area knowledge exercise and mechanical shakedown to trial all the systems, ensuring they are ready when required. It was a glorious morning and a great opportunity to return to exercise.”

Newcastle RNLI’s second coxswain Niall McMurray added: “During the night-time exercise, the crew covered some mechanical engine tests after which we went on to focus on emergency procedures.

“We ran through all the alarms on the lifeboat to reacquaint ourselves with the different sounds and how to react if they were activated in a real-life situation. We practised a fire drill and how to deal with a fire in each area of the lifeboat.

“We then went on to test our flares which are primarily used to light up an area at night before concluding the evening learning how to rig and operate the emergency steering.”

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Aran Islands RNLI was tasked for a medevac from Inis Mór as a scheduled patient transfer by air was cancelled due to poor visibility yesterday morning, Monday 15 March.

Due to poor visibility, a scheduled patient transfer by air was unable to go ahead. The crew were requested to transfer the patient to Rossaveal.

Following all strict Covid-19 health and safety guidelines, the patient was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat to Rossaveal by both the RNLI crew, under John O'Donnell, and the Inis Mór Fire Service.

Having just launched on the return leg, the lifeboat was called back to Inis Mór as another patient on the island needed further medical attention.

The second patient was safely transferred aboard the lifeboat by the volunteer crew at the pontoon on Inis Mór, and the lifeboat then headed straight for Rossaveal Harbour and the waiting ambulance.

Speaking after the callout, Aran Islands RNLI coxswain John O'Donnell said: “The volunteer crew responded quickly and two patients are safely on their way to further medical attention — we would like to wish them both a speedy recovery.

“Poor visibility can be very dangerous on the water. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

File image of Fenit RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat (Photo: RNLI/Fenit)File image of Fenit RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat | Photo: RNLI/Fenit

Elsewhere, Fenit RNLI’s volunteer crew responded to a report of concern for a windsurfer in the Maharees Islands area early on Sunday evening, 14 March.

The all-weather lifeboat launched with a full crew on board and headed to the location near Castlegregory, on the north side of the Dingle Peninsula.

The Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon-based helicopter Rescue 115 also attended the scene in a search co-ordinated by Valentia Coast Guard.

A search of the given location was under way when word was received that the windsurfer had safely made his way ashore.

Speaking following the callout, Fenit RNLI coxswain Finbarr O’Connell said: “Fenit RNLI are delighted with a safe and positive outcome for all concerned. As always this is an opportunity to remind all users of the sea to be as prepared as possible when going to sea.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Red Bay and Larne RNLI came to the aid of 17 fisherman last night (Thursday 11 March) after their 35m Spanish trawler got into difficulty 11 miles east of Cushendall.

The volunteer crews at both stations were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboats just before 7.30pm following a report from Belfast Coastguard that the trawler had lost all power and was drifting into a shipping lane.

Weather conditions at the time were challenging with Storm Force 10 gusts of up to 54 knots and high seas recorded during the course of the call out.

Red Bay RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat under Coxswain Paddy McLaughlin and with five crew onboard, was on scene first to assess the situation. Larne RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat meanwhile, under Coxswain Frank Healy and with four crew members onboard, was diverted from a training exercise and made its way to the scene.

Weather conditions at the time were challenging with Storm Force 10 gusts of up to 54 knots and high seasWeather conditions at the time were challenging with Storm Force 10 gusts of up to 54 knots and high seas

Red Bay RNLI began to work with the crew of the trawler to establish a towline while the all-weather lifeboat from Larne illuminated the scene in what were dark, wet and windy conditions.

The lifeboat started a slow tow to bring the vessel back to Red Bay but the extreme weather forced the tow to part mid-way.

Larne RNLI established a second tow and brought the trawler the remainder of the way into Red Bay where it was secured at 11 pm.

Both lifeboats were requested to launch once again this morning after the trawler began to drag its anchor out of Waterfoot. In much better conditions and daylight, Red Bay RNLI safely towed the vessel into the shelter of Red Bay.

Speaking following the call out, Larne RNLI Coxswain Frank Healy said: ‘Weather conditions on scene last night were extremely challenging for all involved and I would like to commend our volunteers both here and in Red Bay for their teamwork over the three and half hours as they worked in darkness amid Force 10 winds gusting up to 54 knots and high seas. Our volunteers are highly skilled and trained for all eventualities at sea and that was certainly put to the test last night but we were delighted to help and bring the fishermen to safety.’

Published in Fishing
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Skerries RNLI carried out a medical evacuation of a crewman from a survey vessel six miles north of Skerries last night, Wednesday 10 March.

Shortly after 8pm, the lifeboat crew were tasked by Dublin Coast Guard following a call from the skipper of the vessel requesting assistance for a crew member who had been feeling unwell for a number of hours and was showing no signs of improvement.

On arrival at the survey vessel amid Force 5-6 winds, the lifeboat was carefully manoeuvred into position on the starboard side where a boarding ladder was lowered for the casualty to disembark.

The lifeboat crew carried out an initial assessment of the casualty and tried to keep him as comfortable as possible on the way back to the station and the care of the waiting paramedics, who transferred him to hospital for further assessment.

Speaking about the callout, volunteer lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning said: “It wasn’t a particularly pleasant evening to be out on a lifeboat, but our volunteers are always ready to go when they get the call.

“It was great to have the ambulance waiting on arrival and we wish the gentleman a speedy recovery.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Arklow RNLI’s new station mechanic responded to his first callout yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 10 March) when the lifeboat was tasked to assist a fishing vessel off Arklow Pier.

The volunteer crew left their lunch and were under way aboard the all-weather Trent class lifeboat Ger Tigchlearr within minutes of the request.

In challenging conditions and rising winds and seas, the lifeboat made its way to the reported position around a quarter of a mile north-east of Arklow Pier.

Once on scene, it was confirmed the casualty vessel with three people aboard had lost propulsion. A towline was established and the fishing boat was towed back to Arklow where all hands came ashore safely.

Following the callout, Mark Corcoran, community safety officer at Arklow RNLI, said: “Whether you are a professional fisherman or a leisure boat user, we would remind people to respect the water and always wear a lifejacket and carry a means of calling for help like a marine radio.

“This was also our first callout for our new station mechanic James Russell. On behalf of all at Arklow RNLI, we wish to congratulate James on his new role at Arklow lifeboat station.”

James takes over the role from Michael Fitzgerald, who recently retired after 40 years of dedicated service to the charity that saves lives at sea.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Arklow RNLI marked the end of an era last Friday 5 March when Michael Fitzgerald, the station’s full-time mechanic retired after 40 years of dedicated service to the charity.

Michael, who grew up on Harbour Road in Arklow, first joined the RNLI in 1980 when he was just 16. At the time, the station had a wooden lifeboat.

It was his uncle, also Michael, a second mechanic on the crew, who inspired the then young Michael with a love for all things lifeboating.

While not eligible to officially join the crew until he was 17, Michael’s early passion shone through and to his delight, his name was registered a year early when the late coxswain Michael O’Brien made a plea on his behalf during a station inspection.

A former electrician, Michael volunteered for 19 years before being appointed Arklow RNLI’s full-time station mechanic, a position he held for the last 21 years.

His role involved a wide range of duties and evolved with time, with Michael serving on and maintaining six different classes of lifeboat including the station’s current all-weather Trent class lifeboat, the Ger Tigchlearr, which arrived in 1997. Michael was also a key member of the team when the call for help came and the lifeboat was put to sea.

‘A man of humility, integrity and passion, he has made a significant contribution to saving lives at sea off the Arklow coast’

Paying tribute to Michael this week, Peter Harty, RNLI area lifesaving manager, said: “Michael is the living embodiment of the RNLI’s values.

“A man of humility, integrity and passion, he has made a significant contribution to saving lives at sea off the Arklow coast for more than four decades and we are extremely grateful to him for his dedication and selfless service throughout that time.

“Thankfully, Michael will not be lost to us as he will remain on as a volunteer mechanic but we want to wish him every good health and happiness in the next chapter of his life.”

John Tyrell, Arklow RNLI lifeboat operations manager, added: “Over the course of four decades, Michael has worked tirelessly to ensure the operational effectiveness of our station here in Arklow through the operation, maintenance and repair of our lifeboat and its associated machinery and equipment.

“He always ensured everything was working to the highest standard and he did so with great passion and pride. Michael’s passion for his role extended to his ability to impart his knowledge to others.

“Over the years Michael has experienced all sorts of callouts and braved all sorts of weather and challenges at sea to help bring those in difficulty to safety.

“A humble man and a friend to all, Michael has always been at the core of our lifesaving team, working to keep our lifeboats and our crews safe and we are so thankful to him for that.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lough Derg RNLI have announced the appointment of Dr Christine O’Malley as lifeboat operations manager.

Dr O’Malley, who took up the post on 8 January this year after the retirement of Liam Maloney, is now responsible for all activities at the lifeboat station on the Shannon Navigation.

The retired consultant geriatrician, and regular columnist for the Medical Independent, joined Lough Derg RNLI in 2019 as a volunteer deputy launching authority — a role that she now hands over to Maloney.

In her new position, Dr O’Malley is receiving support and guidance from Owen Medland, RNLI regional lifesaving lead for Ireland; Peter Harty, RNLI area lifesaving manager for the East of Ireland, and RNLI crew assessor trainer Helena Duggan, as well as the dedicated volunteers at Lough Derg RNLI.

“Already a highly respected member of the station, Christine brings a wealth of leadership and management experience from her medical career,” Harty says.

“Christine has come onboard as we progress towards a year in which we anticipate a high volume of ‘staycationers’ enjoying Lough Derg.”

Lough Derg RNLI operates from the premises of Lough Derg Yacht Club at Dromineer, midway down the east shore of the lake in Co Tipperary.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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