Shore angler, Colm Plunkett, credits his lifejacket with saving his life after he was swept into the sea earlier this year.

He said, “I was fishing when a rogue wave washed me into the sea. I spent the next 55 minutes fighting for my life. Fortunately I was with my 16-year-old daughter, who immediately called the Coast Guard. Upon entering the water my lifejacket automatically inflated and kept me on the surface of the sea.

'A lifejacket saved my life'

Credit: RNLI/Iain Webster

“For the first 15 to 20 minutes I was swept by the current out to sea. I spent 30 minutes or so fighting to get air into my lungs while spitting sea water out of my mouth, as the waves broke over my head and the water ran down my face. Much to my relief the current then pushed me back towards the land and to calmer waters. My state of exhaustion and oncoming hypothermia prevented me from reaching the shore but my daughter shouted to me that help was on the way and, for the first time my spirits rose. After 10 minutes the inshore rescue boat from Derrynane, County Kerry, reached me. I was brought to shore with a life-threatening low temperature and was taken to hospital by helicopter for further assessment and treatment.

“I am here solely because I wear a lifejacket. Fishermen don’t usually wear lifejackets, they think they are invincible. If you are not wearing a lifejacket you are as good as dead.”

Colm is backing the ‘Don’t be an amateur – wear a lifejacket’ campaign by RNLI. They are urging all shore anglers to wear a lifejacket, which could buy them vital time should they end up in the water unexpectedly.

Over the past five years, 24 anglers have died while fishing from rocks or the shoreline, and the number of ‘near misses’ has been even higher, with the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews rescuing 240 shore anglers and saving 28 lives between 2010 and 2014.

For more information please visit the RNLI website.

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