Courtown RNLI volunteers keep girl with suspected spinal injuries afloat for 40 minutes in sea rescue

Courtown RNLI in County Wexford have released footage of their rescue of a teenage girl with suspected spinal injuries whom they had to keep afloat in the sea for 40 minutes.

She was rescued last Friday after she fell off an inflatable donut which was being towed by a jet-ski.

A member of the public raised the alarm at 4.25pm saying that the jet-ski had broken down and was drifting off Ardamine Beach.

The man then made a second call to say the teenage girl was in difficulty in the sea with suspected back injuries after coming off an inflatable donut.

The jet-ski had been towing the donut when it got a rope in the water intake which disabled it.

Courtown RNLI launched their D class lifeboat and found the jet-ski not far from the girl in the water as well as a kayaker who had come to help.

You can see the footage of the rescue, supplied by the RNLI, below.

The girl's father, who had been on the shore, had also made his way to her and was supporting her in the water.

Two RNLI crew members, Fergus Slevin and Father Tom Dalton, got into the water to transfer the father into the lifeboat and assess the girl's condition before requesting a helicopter to airlift her.

Fergus and Father Tom immobilised the girl, put a neck brace on her and ensured she remained afloat, flat in the water and straight at all times, for 40 minutes.

They did so while treading water and continuously chatting to the young girl and keeping her reassured.

The Rescue 117 helicopter arrived and lowered their winch man who strapped the teenager into a rigid stretcher before she was lifted on to the lifeboat and brought to the nearby Glendoyne beach.

The lifeboat was beached, and with the help of the local shore-based Coast Guard Unit, the crew helped the helicopter to lift the casualty in a basket to be airlifted to University Hospital Waterford.

The girl is reported to be well and will make a full recovery.

The all-weather lifeboat from Arklow RNLI was also launched and rescued the two people on the jet-ski and the kayaker.

They were transferred back into Courtown where they were met by an ambulance and treated for shock and cold.

Sam Kennedy, Courtown RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: "I would like to highly commend the lifeboat crew for their decision making on Friday.

"We want to wish the casualty a speedy recovery after what was a frightening experience for all involved.

"This rescue was a great example of the RNLI and the Irish Coast Guard working well together to bring someone to safety and we would like to thank our colleagues here in Courtown and in Rescue 117 and also the member of the public who raised the alarm."

He finished by saying that anyone planning a trip to sea should always respect the water.

He said: "People should remember inflatables are designed for using in a pool and not the open sea. Always wear a lifejacket and always carry a means for calling or signalling for help.

"Should you get into difficulty or see someone in trouble dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard."


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