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Displaying items by tag: RNLI

Achill Island RNLI is delighted to welcome Ciaran Needham, a native of Sáile as the station’s new Lifeboat Operations Manager. Ciaran succeeds Tony McNamara, who recently retired from the role.

Ciaran is an electrician by trade and is also a member of Achill GAA where he trains regularly with his club mates. While Ciaran loves all things GAA, he is also an avid surfer, and it is his passion for surfing that has instilled a deep respect in him for the sea and how it can change in an instant.

Having lived in Sydney, Australia, for 10 years where he worked as an electrician and spent a lot of time surfing, Ciaran returned home to Achill Island two years ago, where he now lives with his partner, Mary Ellen Daly. While in Sydney, Ciaran was aware of the full-time lifeguards that patrolled Sydney’s sprawling beaches as he surfed. Back at home, he has always appreciated the role of the lifeboat and the unique volunteer nature of the RNLI, a charity reliant on the generous donations from the public.

Talking about why he joined Achill Island RNLI as Lifeboat Operations Manager, Ciaran said: ‘I’ve been involved with the sea for my whole life and knowing that there is a volunteer lifeboat crew always ready and willing to come to the assistance of anyone who needs it has always meant so much to me. It made sense to volunteer with Achill Island RNLI when this role became available, with the realisation that I could have been a potential casualty many times in the past, or indeed, at some stage in the future.’

As the Lifeboat Operations Manager, Ciaran is responsible for operational activities at the lifeboat station, authorising the launch of the lifeboat and the day-to-day management of the station.

When speaking about his vision for the lifeboat station in the years ahead, Ciaran said that he was looking forward to welcoming new members to Achill Island RNLI. Describing this as a new chapter for the station, he said: ‘I would like to welcome Martin Reilly as an additional Deputy Launching Authority and Eilish Power as our new Lifeboat Press Officer and I look forward to working with them in their new roles. I’m also looking forward to welcoming new lifeboat crew to the station and our new team will benefit from the experience that already exists in Marie Kilbane as Deputy Launching Authority, Dave Curtis as Coxswain and Michael Cattigan as mechanic, as well as all the existing volunteer crew.’

Ciaran reflected on the challenges presented by Covid restrictions over the past 18 months. Regular meetings with the crew, welcoming the public for open days and essential fundraising activities have all been interrupted and missed, but Ciaran looks forward to activities at the station beginning to return to normal. When speaking about what he admires most about the RNLI, Ciaran said: ‘It’s that volunteer aspect; that has to be admired above all else. The amount of training that our crew participate in, their commitment and dedication, it’s immense. And it wouldn’t be possible without the tireless work and effort by our always enthusiastic and hugely devoted fundraising branch.’

Meanwhile, Rob King, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, welcomed Ciaran and wished him well in his new role: ‘I would like to thank Ciaran for accepting the role of Lifeboat Operations Manager with Achill Island RNLI and I very much look forward to supporting him and the Achill team.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Fifty-one years to the day after he was rescued from a capsized dinghy and inspired to join a lifeboat crew, Stephen Wynne is retiring as Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI’s Lifeboat Operations Manager, a position he has held for over three decades. Stephen will however, continue to volunteer for the lifeboat station as Deputy Launching Authority.

Recalling his own rescue by the RNLI on the 10 September 1970, Stephen said it was fitting that he chose the anniversary that inspired him to get involved with the charity as the day he would hand over the reins:

‘I was rescued from a capsized dinghy outside Dun Laoghaire by the then Coxswain, the late Eric Offer and his crew on the Waveney class lifeboat which was the first class of lifeboats operated by the RNLI capable of operating at speeds in excess of 10 knots. While I was too young to join at the time, I made a decision then when I came out of hospital that when I met the age eligibility, I was going to become a volunteer crew member.’

True to his word, Stephen joined the RNLI lifeboat community in 1975 and became a crew member in 1977. He later became a Deputy Launching Authority in 1987 and became Honorary Secretary, a position known now as Lifeboat Operations Manager, in 1990.

For the last 31 years in this role, Stephen has been responsible for managing all operational activities, authorising the launch of both the all-weather and inshore lifeboats and the day-to-day management of the station.

It is a position he has relished and one which he will miss: ‘Volunteers have always been at the heart of the RNLI and essential in saving lives at sea. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve first as a crew member, then as Deputy Launching Authority and later Lifeboat Operations Manager. My contribution over the years however, has been part of a wider team effort and I want to thank the dedicated team around me in Dun Laoghaire for all that they do - the lifeboat crew, shore crew, station officers, management and fundraisers. I also want to thank the many members of the public who always give their support so generously and donate what they can to power Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s lifesaving work.’

Peter Harty, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, paid tribute to Stephen: ‘Stephen is the epitome of an RNLI volunteer. Utterly dedicated to saving lives at sea, he has lived the RNLI’s core values of selflessness, dependability, trustworthiness and courage in all that he does. He joined the lifeboat community at Dun Laoghaire in 1975, after he was rescued at sea. During this time, he has provided outstanding leadership and support to operational lifesavers. We are delighted that Stephen is not lost to us as he will be remaining with Dun Laoghaire RNLI as a Deputy Launching Authority.’

Ed Totterdell, also a Deputy Launching Authority, will take up the role as the new Lifeboat Operations Manager.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Sligo Bay RNLI reminds sea swimmers of the importance of not struggling against rip currents after two people were rescued from a strong current at the ominously named Deadman’s Point.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat shortly after 5.40pm on Tuesday evening (7 September) following a report that two swimmers had got into difficulty in the waters adjacent to Sligo Yacht Club.

Weather conditions at the time were described as good with light winds, good visibility but with a very strong incoming tide.

The lifeboat launched under helm Daryl Ewing and with David Bradley, Ross Palmer and Owen McLoughlin onboard. On arrival at the scene, the crew observed that both swimmers were wearing tow floats which had helped to keep them afloat until the lifeboat reached them.

The lifeboat crew checked that the swimmers were safe and well before taking them onboard and bringing them back to the lifeboat station where they were made comfortable.

Speaking following the callout, Sligo Bay RNLI helm Daryl Ewing said: “Thankfully both swimmers were safe but they were shocked at how quickly they were taken out by the rip current.

“Rip currents can be difficulty to spot, but are sometimes identified by a channel of churning, choppy water on the sea’s surface. Even the most experienced beachgoers and swimmers can be caught out by rips so never be afraid to ask for advice and read any local signage.

“If you do get caught in a rip, don’t try to swim against it or you will get exhausted. If you can stand, wade and don’t swim. If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore. Always raise your hand and shout for help.

“If you see someone who you think might be in trouble, don't delay: dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

This was the second rescue for the Sligo Bay lifeboat this week, after the volunteer crew launch to the aid of an injured fisherman on a charter vessel on Sunday 5 September, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Portaferry RNLI came to the aid of two men this morning (Wednesday 8 September) after their 9m rib took on water and was in danger of sinking off St John’s Point Lighthouse in county Down. Newcastle RNLI also responded.

The volunteer crew at Portaferry RNLI were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat by Belfast Coastguard at 11.06 am following a Pan Pan alert. The report was that the vessel was sinking one mile west of St John’s Point. Meanwhile, Newcastle RNLI was requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat.

The inshore lifeboat from Portaferry helmed by Chris Adair and with crew members, Simon Exley, George Toma and Ian Sands onboard, launched immediately and made its way to the scene approximately 25 minutes away.

Weather conditions at the time were good with clear skies, moderate visibility due to a sea fog, smooth seas and a light breeze.

Arriving first on scene, the Portaferry lifeboat crew observed that the men onboard the boat were safe and well and were already using their own salvage pump to deal with the ingress of water.

The lifeboat helm transferred a crew member onboard the boat with another salvage pump should it be required. However, having assessed the situation and with the crew’s own pump coping well with the intake of water, a decision was made to escort the vessel to the nearest safe port at Ardglass Harbour. Newcastle RNLI was subsequently stood down. On arrival at Ardglass, the vessel was assisted by the Newcastle Coastguard team.

Speaking following the call out, Portaferry RNLI Helm Chris Adair said: ‘The men onboard the vessel acted quickly this morning which ensured that help was with them in good time should the situation have deteriorated. We would like to commend them for doing everything right in raising the alarm early on when they knew they were in difficulty, for wearing their lifejackets and for being prepared for the situation they encountered and using their own salvage pump. All these factors helped in keeping them safe and we were delighted to escort them back to Ardglass.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Helvick Head RNLI came to the aid of four people on Monday evening (6 September) after their 14ft open pleasure boat broke down at Cunnigar Point.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 7.19 pm following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to assess the situation where the boat with two men and two women onboard, had suffered engine failure at Cunnigar Point, a 5km sand spit that juts across from An Rinn to Dungarvan Bay.

The lifeboat helmed by Alan Kelly and with crew members, Paudie Walsh, Richard Haynes and Joe Foley onboard, launched immediately and made its way to the scene.

Weather conditions at the time were bright and sunny with a flat calm sea and an easterly Force 1 wind.

On arrival, the lifeboat crew first ensured that all onboard were safe and well before assessing the situation and deciding to tow the vessel to the nearest safe port at Ballynagaul.

Speaking following the call out, Sean Walsh, Helvick Head RNLI Deputy Launching Authority said: ‘We would like to commend the group who had taken the necessary safety precautions for their trip. They were all wearing their lifejackets and were at anchor when the lifeboat arrived.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Achill Island RNLI was involved in the medical evacuation of a female patient from Clare Island this afternoon (Tuesday, 7 September) following a request from the Irish Coast Guard.

The volunteer crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 1.15 pm under Coxswain Dave Curtis and with six crew members onboard. It followed a request to assist the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118 from Sligo, due to foggy weather conditions on the island at the time.

Weather conditions improved during the call out and the crew were able to secure a zone for the helicopter to successfully land and take the patient onboard the aircraft. The patient was then transferred to Mayo University Hospital and the all-weather lifeboat, The Sam and Ada Moody, and her crew returned to Achill Island at 3pm.

Speaking following the call out, Dave Curtis, Coxswain said: ‘This is another example of good inter-agency teamwork between our colleagues in the Irish Coast Guard and our volunteer crew. We wish the patient well for a speedy recovery.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Knockadoon sisters Siobhán and Denise O’Donoghue recently cut their hair for two charities — raising more than €1,600 for the Youghal lifeboat.

Between them, the girls cut a whopping 128 inches of their own hair and donated it to the Rapunzel Foundation, which make wigs for children suffering from alopecia and cancer.

Siobhan (9) said: “I did it to help the boys and girls with cancer and the men and women who risk their lives saving others at sea.”

Denise (12), meanwhile, said her reason to cut her hair was to “make a child smile again and hope that the money for the RNLI will help to make a difference in savings someone’s life”.

Speaking following receiving the cheque for €1661.70, Youghal RNLI's Mel Mullane said: “What an amazing gesture this was from Siobhán and Denise to think of us in this way.

“As a charity, Youghal RNLI is reliant on voluntary donations to power our lifesaving work. Thanks to the generosity of people like Siobhán and Denise, our volunteers can continue to do their work in saving lives at sea.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Sligo Bay RNLI launched to the aid of a fisherman who sustained an injury onboard a boat off Inishmurray at the weekend.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat shortly before noon on Sunday (5 September) following a report that a person onboard a charter fishing vessel had sustained an injury off the island some 15km from the lifeboat station.

The casualty was part of a group enjoying a fishing trip when the accident occurred. The skipper acted promptly dialling 999 for help and both Sligo Bay RNLI’s lifeboat and the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118 from Sligo were requested to the scene.

Weather conditions at the time were described as having light winds, good visibility and flat seas.

On arrival, the lifeboat crew found the coastguard already on scene and administrating casualty care.

One of the lifeboat crew, Owen McLoughlin, went aboard the fishing vessel to assist the winch operator with the evacuation of the casualty and to manage the highline from the helicopter.

The casualty was then safely transferred by helicopter to Sligo University Hospital for treatment.

Speaking following the callout, Sligo Bay RNLI crew member Owen McLoughlin said: “We would like to wish the casualty a speedy recovery.

“Our volunteers regularly train with our colleagues in the Irish Coast Guard for all types of scenarios at sea and this call out was a good example of how beneficial that training and inter-agency cooperation is.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A volunteer crew member at Lough Derg RNLI has become a trauma risk management practitioner for the Dromineer station.

Chris Parker graduated from the RNLI’s Trauma Risk Management Programme (TRiM) this past April.

The TRiM programme aims to provide confidential support and assistance for volunteers who may be dealing with the psychological effects of attending traumatic or distressing callouts.

Currently there are 60 TRiM practitioners within the RNLI across the UK and Ireland — including Parker, who joined the Co Tipperary lifeboat crew two-and-a-half years ago, shortly after moving to the area with his family.

Now a qualified lifeboat crew member, Parker is also Lough Derg RNLI’s health, safety and environmental local liaison.

“I am proud to be able to help fellow volunteers,” he says.

“Sometimes we run towards the bad stuff, and it can take its toll. As a crew member, I want to be there for the members of the public when they are in difficulty, but as a practitioner, I want to be there for my fellow volunteer crew members in the RNLI who may be having their worst day, too.”

As the RNLI is a frontline volunteer emergency service, its crews encounter scenarios and casualty injuries they may never confront in their day jobs.

And in spite of rigorous training in casualty care, volunteers respond differently to the reality of what they’ve encountered.

In most instances following traumatic events, crew will resolve any negative feelings over time. “TRiM is there to support our staff and volunteers from an early stage, to offer peer support,” Parker says.

“To those that require professional help, the TRiM practitioners have the knowledge and training to signpost those services and support.”

All training for frontline staff or volunteers is provided by the RNLI through its partner March on Stress. Parker says that to retain practitioner status, he must meet professional standards through continuous training.

He explains that the initial two-day intensive course covered active listening skills, mentoring, education and risk assessment.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Skerries RNLI launched to the aid of a man who had fallen from the cliffs in Loughshinny yesterday afternoon (Sunday 5 September).

The lifeboat volunteers were tasked by Dublin Coast Guard after a 999 call was received reporting that a man had fallen from the clifftop and was trapped on the rocks below.

Shortly after 1pm the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson was launched and arrived on scene within minutes. The crew quickly spotted the man at the base of the cliff face with some people assisting him.

The lifeboat was manoeuvred as close as possible to the shoreline and was greeted by one of the assistants. They were members of a diving club who had been returning from a dive nearby when they heard the man’s cries for help.

Following a quick briefing on the casualty’s condition, two of the crew made their way ashore to further assess him and perform first aid.

The Irish Coast Guard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116 was also tasked and landed on the beach at Loughshinny, where the casualty was brought by the lifeboat and put on board the aircraft for transfer to Beaumont Hospital.

Less than 24 hours earlier, at 3.30pm on Saturday afternoon (4 September), the volunteer crew launched to a distress call from a small sailing cruiser with two people on board.

The vessel had suffered steering failure between Skerries and Balbriggan and those on board were struggling to make their way to safety.

Almost immediately after launching, the lifeboat made contact with the stricken vessel as they had managed to regain very limited steering and make their way closer to Skerries.

The lifeboat stood by while the vessel approached the harbour and then assisted them in tying up along the pier.

With the help of one of the station volunteers and a local angler, the steering component that had been damaged was successfully repaired and the pair were able to continue on their journey.

Speaking about the callouts, Skerries RNLI press officer Gerry Canning said: “This was another great example of how well all the emergency services work together, with volunteers and professionals working side by side to ensure the best possible outcome.

“We’d also like to say thank you to the gentlemen from Alpha Dive sub aqua club who did a brilliant job in raising the alarm and assisting the casualty until help arrived.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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