Lifesaving surfers give taxi drivers a lift

SURFERS across the North West have signed on for a lifesaving initiative to carry throw lines inside their vehicles.

The programme, the brainchild of the North West Taxi Proprietors (NWTP), will see throw lines made available to surfers who spend a great deal of time near water.

NWTP initially issued the throw lines to taxi drivers as a response to encountering people in distress on the city's bridges and now have extended the offer by giving the 40 metre lines to local surfers.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The lifesaving devices enables the extension of immediate assistance to someone in difficulty.

Eamonn O'Donnell of the NWTP said it made perfect sense to extend the lifesaving equipment to surfers: "Surfers are often the only eyes and ears at remote beaches, especially where there is no lifeguard cover.

"We're delighted to see the positive take up from the North West Surf Club (NWSC) to our offer of throw lines and we welcome their participation in 'Taxi watch' which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

Ryan Vail, a committee member of the NWSC said: "Even though we live on an island, the vast majority of people are uniformed about the way in which rip currents or cold water can endanger life.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It is amazing how often surfers have had to swim out to people who find themselves in difficulty in the water. It is so sad to hear every year of people losing their lives at the coast, often in situations where a throw line could have made all the difference. Even if one person is to be helped with these throw lines, it will be well worth it."

Plans are now in place to install the safety lines in the vehicles of surfing enthusiasts before the busy spring and summer periods, when local people return to the water in large numbers.

BBC Radio Foyle presenter, Mark Patterson, himself an avid surfer, told the Sentinel how a throw line has already been used in recent days by a surfer to help a canoeist in difficulty.

"Amazingly in this first week, one line has been used by a surfer, helping a Donegal canoeist who could not get back to shore under his own steam.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Surfing in the North West is getting increasingly popular as local people discover the amazing surf we all have on our doorstep. The flipside of that is that we must do all we can to draw attention to the dangers of what can happen when things go wrong.

Swimmers or inexperienced surfers and bodyboarders often get caught in currents along the Donegal and Causeway coastlines. This has unfortunately led to fatalities. We all hope this simple partnership with the local taxis serves to add another, albeit small measure of safety for all who love the local coastline."

Related topics: