Belfast Telegraph

Watch: RNLI lifeguards return to duty this week after intensive training

RNLI lifeguards will return to duty this week to provide lifesaving cover on five beaches on the Causeway Coast during this year’s Easter holidays.

Starting on Good Friday, April 19, lifeguards will be operating a daily patrol from 11am to 7pm on Benone Strand, Portstewart Strand, West Strand and East Strand in Portrush, and Whiterocks. The Easter service will run until Sunday April 28.

The Belfast Telegraph visited RNLI during their training to find out what it takes to make it as a lifeguard.

The lifeguards role is to keep beachgoers safe by spotting the dangers and preventing accidents before they happen, as well as responding instantly if they occur.

They monitor sea conditions to set up the appropriate flags, watch people on the beach and offer safety advice both on the beach and when not on patrol, in classrooms through the RNLI’s education programmes before the summer season.

Last year, lifeguards in Northern Ireland responded to 283 incidents and came to the aid of 252 people.

Karl O’Neill, RNLI Lead Lifeguard Supervisor said the lifeguards had been undergoing intensive training in recent weeks.

"Our lifeguard induction covers seven key areas which provide new lifeguards with the information they need to carry out their work safely and effectively," he said.

"Lifeguards then put their knowledge into practice during a series of staged scenarios. Then they’re ready to hit the ground running on the first day of the lifeguard season.

"Our lifeguards are looking forward to putting their training and skills into action. We are here to provide a safe environment on the beach and to promote safe behaviour so that visitors can enjoy their day and return home safely at the end of it. 

"We would encourage visitors to speak to our lifeguards, ask for safety advice, and to call on them should they get into difficulty."

The RNLI’s advice for anyone planning a trip to the beach is to respect the water, check weather and tide times before you go and if planning to go into the water, swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags. Avoid using inflatables in strong winds or rough seas.

If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help and if you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can’t see a lifeguard, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

Following Easter, the RNLI will be providing weekend cover on these beaches before taking up full-time daily patrol for the summer on 11 beaches on the Causeway Coast and in County Down including Downhill, Castlerock, Ballycastle, Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield.

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