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RNLI says swim between red and yellow flags as lifeguards rescue three from rip

Lifeboats News Release

RNLI lifeguards have rescued three teenagers who got caught in a rip current off Portrush East Strand this afternoon (Tuesday 3 July).

Lifeguards Josh McCaw and Nicola McIlroy were patrolling the beach when at 12.50pm, Josh spotted three swimmers in the sea 300m east of the lifeguarded patrol zone.

Using the RNLI quad, Josh immediately make his way to the scene where on arrival he could see that the swimmers were in difficulty and struggling to stay afloat. Using a rescue tube, he swam out to the three who at this stage were calling for help.

With one girl in particular need of attention, Josh passed the rescue tube to her first before asking the other two, a girl and boy, if they could swim with him. As they too struggled, they used the rescue tube and Josh brought them safely towards the shore.

As they met the breaking waves, the second girl and the boy were able to stand and make their way safely to the beach while Josh carried the other girl who was struggling with her breathing, to the beach.

Casualty care was administered by Josh and fellow lifeguards Nicola McIlroy, Marcus McKeag and Albert Dallas. As a precautionary measure an ambulance was requested for the girl who the lifeguards continued to monitor until it arrived.

RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor Karl O’Neill appealed to people planning a visit to the beach this summer to swim between the red and yellow flags: ‘We want to stress that the best way to stay safe on a beach and to avoid rips is to choose a lifeguarded beach and always swim between the red and yellow flags - they have been marked based on where is safer to swim in the current conditions. This also helps you to be spotted by us more easily, should something go wrong.

‘If you do find yourself caught in a rip don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted. If you can stand, wade 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 anyone else in trouble, alert the lifeguards or call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.’


RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Nuala McAloon, RNLI Regional Media Officer on 0876483547, email or Niamh Stephenson RNLI Public Relations Manager Ireland on 00 353 87 1254 124 or

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland