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RNLI urge Respect the Water as 2015 sees 497 people rescued in Northern Ireland

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RNLI lifeboats in Northern Ireland launched 269 times in 2015 bringing 279 people to safety, while the charity’s lifeguards responded to 182 incidents and helped 218 people on 10 beaches during the season.

As the RNLI, the charity that saves lives at sea, today (Wednesday 27 January) releases its lifeboat and lifeguard figures for 2015, it is urging people whether they are working or enjoying the coastline, inland areas or the beach, to respect the water.

Enniskillen RNLI, which operates from two inland lifeboat stations on Upper and Lower Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, had the most call outs in Northern Ireland launching 74 times over the 12 months bringing 89 people to safety. On Upper Lough Erne at Carrybridge, there were 46 launches and 56 people rescued while on the Lower Lough at Killadeas, there were 28 launches and 33 people brought to safety.

Bangor RNLI in County Down was the busiest single site station launching 45 times and helping 77 people. Portrush RNLI meanwhile, launched 40 times and rescued 25 people.

Volunteer lifeboat crew responded to a range of incidents last year and on many occasions teamed up with their colleagues from flank stations. One such mission last September saw five RNLI lifeboat stations involved in a massive search and rescue operation from Belfast Lough to Fair Head in County Antrim, in a bid to find a missing kayaker.

RNLI Stations                        Launches                               Rescued People
Enniskillen – Upper Lough Erne          46                                           56
Bangor                                                45                                           77
Portrush                                              40                                           25
Enniskillen – Lower Lough Erne         28                                           33
Larne                                                   26                                           13
Donaghadee                                       22                                           17
Red Bay                                              20                                           18
Portaferry                                            18                                           22
Kilkeel                                                 14                                           12
Newcastle                                           10                                           6

Total                                                   269                                          279

Lifeguards who were located on 10 beaches on the Causeway Coast and in County Down responded to 182 incidents coming to the aid of 218 people. Incidents ranged from dealing with stings, slips and trips to major first aid incidents as well as rescues in the water.

One incident included a life saved, while there were eight cases during which 11 people were rescued and 36 instances which saw the lifeguards assist 68 people. Nine people were treated in major casualty care incidents including body boarders, paddle boarders and kite surfers while 95 people were assisted with minor first aid. The lifeguards were also involved in four searches last year.

Despite a wet summer figures show that 345,027 people visited the 10 beaches last year. Some 27,043 of those visitors took to the water while 9,975 were using surf or other craft.

There were a number of unusual incidents to deal with last year summer too, including responding to a sand dune fire, red flagging beaches in a severe thunder and lightning storm and dealing with the discovery of mortar bombs.

RNLI Lifeguards                    Incidents                    People Aided

Total                                       182                              218

The RNLI’s flood team meanwhile was called on once last year when during Storm Frank at the end of December, the team was deployed to Dungannon at the request of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and put on standby.

Overall the RNLI’s lifeboat crews in Ireland launched 1,098 times, bringing 1,244 people to safety.  The busiest lifeboat stations were Howth RNLI in Dublin, Clifden RNLI in Galway and Lough Ree RNLI in Athlone. Howth RNLI which has an all-weather and inshore lifeboat at the station launched 60 times and brought 58 people to safety. Clifden RNLI launched 49 times and brought 20 people to safety while Lough Ree RNLI launched 47 times and rescued 130 people.

The types of call outs that the RNLI responded to included aid to leisure craft users (514), assistance to fishing vessels (160) help to people who got into difficulty along the shoreline (169) and to people in the water (133).

2015 saw the RNLI’s first permanent inland lifeboat station built and officially opened at Carrybridge on Upper Lough Erne. The year also saw the RNLI announce that it would trial an all-weather class lifeboat at Red Bay on the North Antrim coast. Newcastle RNLI officially named its new D class lifeboat Eliza in the County Down coastal town in April. And in Donegal, Lough Swilly RNLI welcomed the first Shannon class lifeboat to Ireland. The Shannon class is the first lifeboat in the history of the RNLI to be named after an Irish river, in recognition of the service and dedication of Irish lifeboat crews.

Commenting on the figures Gareth Morrison, RNLI Lifesaving Delivery Manager said: ‘Our volunteer lifeboat crew and lifeguards have again worked exceptionally hard serving our local communities. We continue to urge those working or enjoying our coastline and inland areas to respect the water.

‘We would like to thank all of our volunteers for their tireless hard work and dedication over the last 12 months. Without all of our volunteers, fundraisers and education teams, our lifesaving service would not operate.’

Leesa Harwood, Community Lifesaving and Fundraising Director added: ‘It’s humbling to see the lifesaving work of our volunteer crew, lifeguards, flood rescue teams and safety advisers. And now the RNLI as a whole owes it to them to act with integrity and tenacity as we take this step to opt-in* communications from January 2017. So I’m appealing to all our dedicated supporters to help us by ticking our opt-in box over the next few months – to hear about our rescues, our safety advice, and our events and help us save the lives of hundreds more in the years to come.’

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