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Portrush RNLI rescue teenage boy who gets into difficulty off Portstewart Head

2 Mins read

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat by Belfast Coastguard at 2.42pm following an initial request to go to the aid of someone in distress off Downhill Beach which subsequently transpired to be a false alarm with good intent. However, once onboard, the lifeboat crew were alerted by the Coastguard to a separate incident after a 999 call was made by a member of the public to say a person was in difficulty in the water off Portstewart Head, some five nautical miles from Portrush.

The lifeboat launched under Coxswain Des Austin and with six crew members onboard and made its way to the scene arriving in less than 10 minutes.

Weather conditions at the time were challenging with a Force 6-7 north to northwest wind, some showers, and a rough sea with 2-3m swells. Visibility was good.

As the lifeboat approached the scene, the crew observed a person in the water waving their arms. A teenage boy who was wearing a wetsuit was struggling against an ebbing tide which was pulling him away from the land and out to sea off the west side of Portstewart Head.

The Coxswain manoeuvred the lifeboat close to where the casualty was in the surf and breaking waves while the station’s mechanic donned a dry suit and PPE. A line was then attached to the mechanic who jumped into the water and grabbed the casualty to safety. The remainder of the crew pulled the mechanic and casualty around to the starboard side of the lifeboat as the Coxswain manoeuvred into position.

The lifeboat crew administered casualty care to make the boy who was showing signs of hypothermia and exhaustion and was suffering from the effects of shock, comfortable, as the lifeboat made its way back to Portrush Harbour. He was then transferred into the care of Coleraine Coastguard and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

Speaking following the call out, Portrush RNLI Coxswain Des Austin said: ‘Conditions were challenging at sea today and time was of the essence. The tide was turning at the time the casualty got into difficulty and the conditions were pulling him out to sea.

The prompt actions of the lifeboat crew saved a life and we would like to wish the casualty well following his ordeal.

‘We would remind anyone planning an activity at sea to always respect the water. Always be prepared, always have the right clothing and safety equipment including a lifejacket or buoyancy aid. Conditions at sea can change quickly and it is important to understand how that affects the area of coastline.

Should you get into difficulty or see someone in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.’

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