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Dún Laoghaire rescuers say girl’s jacket helped survival

Rescuers who saved a young girl at Dún Laoghaire in south Dublin after she was apparently swept out to sea have said her calm demeanour in the water, as well as the jacket she was wearing, helped her to survive.

The child, who is believed to be around seven years old, was taken to hospital to be treated for her injuries, which have been described as non-life threatening.

A multi-agency rescue operation was launched after the alarm was raised at around 8.20pm on Saturday.

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A number of members of the public attempted to enter the water to rescue the girl before Dún Laoghaire Coast Guard, the RNLI and Rescue 116, along with other emergency services, attended the scene.

Andrew Sykes, a volunteer helm with Dún Laoghaire RNLI, said the little girl’s calm demeanour, the jacket she was wearing and the rapid response of emergency services all contributed to her survival.

Andrew Sykes said the rescue will stay with him his whole life

He told RTÉ News: “When we were on the scene we saw her floating on her back with her arms out wide.

“Luckily her jacket, although waterlogged, it was holding two large pockets of air either side of her head, which was a crucial factor of her keeping afloat.

“She was very calm, she was alert and awake, which really helped us to get hands onto her and back into the boat.

“We got her back in the boat and back in the station for further casualty care.

“It really hammers home the training we go through on a weekly basis to save lives at sea. This one rescue is going to stick with me for my whole life,” he added.

Luke Nolan and his friends attempted to help the girl with buoyancy aids

One member of the public who was at the scene was 24-year-old Luke Nolan from Rathfarnham in Dublin, who described the scene as “extremely traumatic”, and outlined how he and his friends attempted to help the child after hearing a cry for help from a young girl and older man who were with the child who was swept into the water.

“Myself and my friends were just walking down Dún Laoghaire pier and we saw a girl put her hand up for help, so we approached her.

“Myself and my friend, we got in on the other side of the pier and tried to grab the girl out, but she had been swept too far away, so we got a few buoyants and tried to throw them in to help the girl but unfortunately, she was too far away.

“There’s nothing you can do, you feel helpless”

“We got the buoyants from the outside of the pier, and there was 4-5 of them and we tried to tie them all together and throw them in, but the conditions were that horrendous that we couldn’t actually get the buoyants into the water,” he said.

He added that his friend tried to get in and throw the buoyant further into the water, but in doing so was also brought in by the current.

“Little did I know he couldn’t swim,” said Mr Nolan, “so we tried to grab him in, and thank God we got him to safety.”

Mr Nolan described conditions at the time as “absolutely horrendous”, adding that it was an “extremely traumatic” experience to have gone for a walk on a Saturday evening, and then encounter what happened.

“You go for a walk on the pier of a Saturday evening and suddenly you see a girl out in the middle of the sea, she had no lifejacket, there’s nothing you can do, you feel helpless. But we tried our best to save her, and thankfully the Coast Guard were there.

“I’ve never seen anything like that, to see a young girl and to be helpless like that after trying your best … it was crazy but I’m glad the two girls are OK and my thoughts are with them at this time.”

Dún Laoghaire RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Ed Totterdell

Dún Laoghaire RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Ed Totterdell described how the girl’s position in the water helped her during the operation.

He said: “She intentionally or unintentionally was in the float-to-live position which is basically you make a star out of yourself, your arms and legs spread wide apart.

“It gives your breath time to catch up. It gives you time to think ‘what will I do next’.

“If you just go in and start gulping for air, that’s more likely to get you into further trouble.”

Graham Charles, the officer in charge with the Irish Coast Guard Dún Laoghaire, said there were “a lot of rolling waves at the time” and it looked like a “rogue wave might have come in and actually took the child into the water”.

Irish Coast Guard Coastal Sector Manager James Larkin added:

“These things can happen and in this case it was a very happy ending and sometimes it doesn’t end up that way.

“Thanks to the voluntary and full-time emergency services for their swift response.”


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