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RNLI Lifeguards Save Four People in Two Incidents on Causeway Coast

26th July 2022
Benone Beach lifeguard Andrzej with a rescue sled
Benone Beach lifeguard Andrzej with a rescue sled Credit: RNLI/Kirstin Bews

RNLI lifeguards in Northern Ireland have saved four people in two separate incidents during a busy week on Causeway Coast beaches.

Two teenage girls were rescued after being pulled out to sea in a rip current, and on the same day a man who had disappeared beneath the waves was pulled to safety along with his son.

In the first incident, RNLI lifeguard Luke was patrolling East Strand beach in Portrush on a rescue water craft (RWC) when lifeguards were alerted by a member of the public to two teenage girls being pulled out by a rip current at Curran Point, the section between East Strand and neighbouring beach Whiterocks.

Rip currents are strong currents running out to sea which can quickly drag people away from the shallows of the shoreline and out to deeper water.

Although the weather was hot and sunny, Luke had to manoeuvre the RWC through choppy waves to get to the reported location of the casualties.

Reaching the teenage girls, Luke saw they were distressed, and they were both struggling to breathe. He pulled the first girl onto the rescue sled at the back of the RWC and then assisted the second girl to climb on as she was very weak.

Luke then brought the girls back to shore and helped them onto the beach and into the care of RNLI lifeguard Emily who treated them for shock.

Speaking after the rescue, Emily said: “Rip currents are very unpredictable. You could walk out five metres into the one at Curran Point and you would lose your footing, it is so strong.

“If you are caught in a rip current, do not try to swim against it or you’ll exhaust yourself. Instead, if you can, swim parallel to the shore until you’re free of the rip and head to shore. Always raise your hand and shout for help.

“We want people to enjoy the water safely by making sure that they come to lifeguarded beaches and swim between the red and yellow flags.”

Luke added: “This rescue proves just how vital our equipment is. The girls were quickly drifting down the beach, almost out of our sight and we would not have made it out to them quickly enough without the RWC.

“Rip currents are an ever-present danger, so we patrol in the water, as well as on shore, to keep everyone safe.”

On the same day, at Benone Beach farther west along the Causeway Coast, lifeguard Andrzej had just helped bring a body boarder back to the safe area between the flags.

He then patrolled down towards the Umbra, the minor river which flows across Benone’s bathing beach and noticed two heads in the water about 500 metres out of the safe swimming zone.

One of them heard the engine of the RWC and raised his arm to signal for help. As Andrzej circled round to go to the rescue, he noticed one of the two men had sunk beneath the water.

Using his hands, Andrzej managed to pull him onto the rescue sled and then reached out to get the second casualty, who he later learned was the first man’s son. The son was struggling, but managing to keep his head above water, so Andrzej pulled him onto the sled also.

With both men onboard the rescue sled, Andrzej headed back to shore where he beached the rescue craft. Andrzej and the man’s son helped get his father onto the sand where they sat him down. Andrzej called his fellow RNLI lifeguards for medical assistance and they administrated oxygen to the casualty.

Speaking after the rescue, Andrzej said: “In the heat of the moment, my training kicked in and I just wanted to get them back on to the sand.

“It could have been a very serious situation if I hadn’t seen them out swimming, and if the son hadn’t raised his arm for help. When you swim at the beach, try to stay as close to the lifeguarded patrol zone as possible, so we can see you and get to you as quickly as we can.

“Luckily, the son knew what to do and did the right thing. If you get into difficulty in the water, lean back, stretch out your arms and legs, then call for help or raise your arm.”

Afloat.ie Team

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