Tuesday 12 December 2017

Wexford star aids GAA/RNLI bid to cut deaths by drowning

Lee Chin, on the left, in survival gear during the visit to the RNLI College in Poole
Lee Chin, on the left, in survival gear during the visit to the RNLI College in Poole

David Tucker

The RNLI and the GAA have joined forces to reduce drowning for the RNLI's 'Respect the Water' campaign, aimed at halving such tragedies by 2024.

Last November, the RNLI brought a small group from the GAA over to the RNLI College in Poole and to Portsmouth University in the UK to meet cold water expert Professor Mike Tipton.

Four elite county players: Lee Chin, from Wexford, Jackie Tyrell, from Kilkenny, Lyndsey Davey, from Dublin, and Neil McManus from Antrim and Lee Chin from Wexford, along with some of the health and wellbeing club representatives from Down, Cork, Mayo and Wicklow put themselves into the hands of the RNLI.

They experienced how cold water shock works and were put to the test when challenging sea conditions were replicated in the RNLI training pool and they had to work together in a simulated rescue.

The joint partnership for 'Respect the Water' was launched nationally at Croke Park last week (March 8) with the President of the GAA, Aogán Ó Fearghaíl, the RNLI's Chief Executive, Paul Boissier, the GAA group that visited RNLI HQ, and other representatives from both organisations to explain why the partnership is happening and what it hopes to achieve.

The RNLI is a registered charity dedicated to saving lives at sea and on selected inland waters.

Recently it has turned its focus to drowning prevention, trying to save the lives of people who are drowning every year despite the incredible work of the lifeboat crews, lifeguards and other search and rescue agencies. The RNLI said it looked for a partner that had a strong reach into local communities and that was respected and known throughout the country and found this in the GAA.

In approaching the GAA to work with them on Respect the Water, the RNLI found 17 cases where GAA players or supporters have lost their lives through drowning.

The GAA met with the RNLI and agreed to partner the charity in the campaign and endorse and share life-saving advice and case studies. They have also given the RNLI access to players and agreed to let the RNLI communicate to their huge network of clubs throughout the country. It is hoped that through this partnership more people will come forward with their own stories and share their experiences to help others.

The 'Respect the Water' campaign will be rolled out in Ireland and the UK on May 25 and will run throughout the summer.

Gorey Guardian

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