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RNLI Technician Goes to Aid of Two Children Caught in Rip Current Off Portrush

23rd August 2022
RNLI systems technician Euan Noble
RNLI systems technician Euan Noble made an impromptu role change to lifesaver on Sunday at Portrush’s East Strand Credit: RNLI/Liam Kavanagh

RNLI systems technician Euan Noble was enjoying his weekend off at Portrush’s East Strand when his girlfriend Charlotte spotted two children struggling in the water on Sunday afternoon (21 August).

Euan, an experienced surfer who works to maintain the mechanics of lifeguard equipment in the Ballymoney RNLI Support Centre, knew that there was a rip current in that area of the bay next to the Arcadia building.

Back on shore, RNLI lifeguard Luca, who was on patrol along the East Strand on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast, also noticed the children struggling with bodyboards by the rocks.

Luca radioed RNLI lifeguards Michael and Jenna, who were out on a paddleboard exercise. Michael started to paddle out to the rocks, about 200 metres away from the black-and-white-flagged area where Euan had been surfing.

Jenna went back to shore and ran along the water’s edge before picking up a rescue board to swim out to help Euan and Michael.

Euan could see the lifeguards respond but based on his own location in the water he knew that he would reach the children first, so he quickly paddled around to them.

He reached out to the young girl in the water and managed to pull her up and out of the rip current, onto his own surfboard.

In the meantime, the girl’s brother had managed to get himself up onto the rocks, so Euan manoeuvred his board around to him where they could safely stay until the lifeguards reached them.

Lifeguards Michael and Jenna arrived on scene and carried out casualty care for some minor injuries before getting the children back to shore on the rescue boards.

Given the strength of the rip, Michael held the boy under the arms and waded to shore with the rescue board over the rocky coastline.

On his impromptu role change from technician to lifesaver, Euan said: “I’ve been caught out by this particular rip current before, they are unpredictable and they can catch you very quickly, these things do happen.

“I usually work with lifeguard equipment, and I’ve never been a lifeguard, so my priority was getting the children into the hands of the lifeguards as safely as possible.

“I am an experienced surfer and familiar with the sea state around this area. Luckily, the children were at a lifeguarded beach, where they could be rescued quickly.”

RNLI lifeguard Michael also notes the dangers of the rip current by Arcadia, saying: “This spot, at the rocks near the corner of the bay by the Arcadia building, is dangerous for bathing because of this strong, permanent rip current.

“When you visit a lifeguarded beach, always check the flags. The area safest for swimming and bodyboarding is always between the red-and-yellow flags, and the area safest for paddleboarding and surfing is always between the black-and-white flags.

“I’m proud of our RNLI team, that includes my lifeguarding colleagues and our staff, in [Sunday’s] rescue that was Euan who knew what to do to support us.”

Afloat.ie Team

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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

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