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#Coastguard - Irish Coast Guard helicopters were called on for two separate evacuations from fishing vessels yesterday morning (Monday 16 January).

In the first incident, Waterford-based Rescue 117 airlifted a fisherman who had suffered an injury on board his vessel to University Hospital Waterford.

On the same morning, Rescue 115 from Shannon was tasked to retrieve a casualty from a fishing vessel some 120 miles west of Kerry Head and transport him to University Hospital Limerick.

MEDICO Cork, based at Cork University Hospital’s A&E department, provided advice for both coastguard medevacs.

Published in Coastguard

#Rescue - A Belfast Harbour policeman jumped into action on Sunday night (8 January) to rescue a young woman from the waters behind the city’s SSE Arena, as BelfastLive reports.

Police constable and lifeboat volunteer Scott Harkins was part of a team of emergency responders who went to the aid of the woman, in her 20s, who was visiting Belfast with family for an ice hockey game.

Constable Harkins was first on scene and wasted no time in pulling on a lifejacket and leaping into the cold waters of Abercorn Basin to recover the casualty and keep her afloat at the quayside.

BelfastLive has more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue

#RNLI - At 8.10am this morning (Wednesday 28 December), Bangor RNLI’s volunteer crew responded to a request from HM Coastguard to rescue a young man reported to be in difficulty while swimming 200 metres off the shore in Ballyholme Bay.

The alarm was raised by Ards and North Down council employee Mark Pollock as he was working in Banks Car Park. Hearing faint shouts, he initially thought it was someone calling for their dog, but persevered looking in the sea until he became aware that there was someone in the water.

Bangor RNLI’s volunteer crew responded within minutes and made their way to Ballyholme Bay.

Helmsman James Gillespie said later: “On arrival, the early morning light made it difficult to see, but fortunately the water was flat calm, and on scanning the area I saw a slight movement as the casualty raised his hand.”

Heading quickly to the scene, crew member Johnny Gedge entered the water to support the casualty, who was only just conscious, until he could be lifted on board the lifeboat, where crew members Joanne Heasley and Jack Irwin put their casualty care training to good use.

Gillespie added: “Our extensive training in casualty care is invaluable at a time like this. Because of this, we know the importance of not trying to warm the patient too quickly as this can cause cardiac arrest.

“Instead, we made the patient safe, and prevented further cooling, and returned as quickly and safely as we could to the lifeboat station where an ambulance and paramedics were waiting to take over.”

The patient, who is thought to be in his late 20s, was wearing only tracksuit bottoms, a T-shirt and socks, and it is unknown why he was in the water.

A shocked Pollock said: “I am just delighted that I heard his calls, and hope he makes a full recovery.”

Speaking after the ambulance left to take the patient to hospital, Bangor’s lifeboat operations manager Kevin Byers said: “I understand from talking to medical personnel at the scene, that only five minutes more in the water would have been fatal, and that the crew took exactly the right actions to give this young man the best chance of a full recovery.

“I am always proud of my team, but their response this morning was magnificent. Not just the four crew members on the boat, but the many others who responded to their pagers and were prepared to do whatever they could to help.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Volunteers from Portaferry RNLI went to the aid of a man who had fallen down a cliff at Ardglass Golf Club on the Co Down coast yesterday (Tuesday 27 December).

The Portaferry lifeboat, an inshore Atlantic 85, launched at 2.55pm just minutes after the launch request from the coastguard to join a multi-service response which included the Northern Ireland Fire Service Specialist Rescue Team, coastguard units from Portaferry, Newcastle and Kilkeel, the PSNI, Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and Rescue 936, the HM Coastguard helicopter from Carnarvon in Wales.

According to Independent.ie, it’s understood that the casualty had slipped down a 30ft gorge at the Ardglass golf links around 2.20pm.

Arriving on scene at 3.17pm, one of Portaferry’s volunteers went ashore to offer assistance to the other members of the emergency services already attending the casualty.

The decision was taken to bring the man to the top of the cliff, where a landing area had been prepared for the rescue helicopter to airlift him to Belfast City Airport for transfer to Royal Victoria Hospital. Portaferry RNLI remained on scene while the casualty was recovered.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Rescue - Gardaí and Dublin firefighters rescued a man in his 20s from the River Liffey in Dublin’s Docklands on Christmas morning.

According to the Dublin Fire Brigade Twitter account, the man was kept afloat by gardaí with a life buoy till he was recovered by the fire service rescue boat at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay shortly before lunchtime yesterday.


In other rescue news, TheJournal.ie looks at the Irish Coast Guard’s operations nationwide, co-ordinating the 1,000 volunteers who “face peril on every call out”.

Published in Rescue

#Maritime - ‘Safe and sustainable’ marine transport and ‘delivery of emergency management services’ have been made a high level goal in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport’s Statement of Strategy 2016-2019, published this week.

Identifying Ireland’s maritime sector as “a critical gateway” for trade and tourism, the statement calls for “an efficient and effective competitive ports sector [that] can foster job creation” via trade, infrastructure developments and “opportunities in other areas such as offshore energy, cruise and marine leisure and recreation.”

Reduced ship emissions and safety at sea are also priorities within the Maritime Safety Strategy, which “includes a range of actions to be implemented or begun by 2019” such as flag state and port state regimes, and the IMO’s Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.

Key services in this strategy include the delivery of a 24/7 marine emergency response and management service by co-ordinating the response to SAR incidents and pollution threats at sea.

Progress on these goals will be monitored by various indicators, such as the transfer of regional ports to local authority control by the end of 2018, the imposition of a new ‘ports performance’ measurement system by the end of 2017, the development of a web portal for SeaSafe Ireland by the middle of next year, as well as a minimum 90% availability of Irish Coast Guard units ahead of “full interoperability” of marine rescue co-ordination by next winter.

The full Statement of Strategy 2016-2019 can be downloaded HERE.

Published in News Update

#RNLI - Castletownbere RNLI’s lifeboat was tasked just before noon yesterday (Sunday 13 November) to go to the aid of a man trapped a ledge on the shore in the Dursey Sound.

The lifeboat, under the command of second coxswain Paul Stevens, was launched within seven minutes and arrived on scene 35 minutes later, where the casualty was located at the bottom of a cliff on a narrow ledge and suspected to be suffering from hypothermia.

Given the dangerous 3-4m swell on the shoreline, the lifeboat was unable to launch its inflatable Y-boat.

The Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 was also on scene but unable to deploy a winchman given the adverse conditions.

However, the lifeboat was able to provide the coastguard with details of the casualty's location through radio contact.

The local Castletownbere Coast Guard shore-based rescue unit lowered one of its team down the rock face who was able to secure the casualty before both were carefully brought up the cliff.

On receiving a medical assessment from ambulance crew, the casualty was transferred to Tralee General Hospital by helicopter.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Awards - Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross presented the National Marine Gallantry and Meritorious Service Awards 2016 at a ceremony in Farmleigh House on Friday evening (14 October)

Minister Ross praised the “courageous achievements and service of this group of brave Irish men and women who have faced crises and dug deep, offering their skills and in many cases placing themselves in danger in order that others might be safe on our waterways.”

Pausing to remember those who lost their lives at sea since the previous awards in 2014, Minister Ross spoke of the tragic death of Irish Coast Guard volunteer Caitríona Lucas last month, describing her as “a courageous and heroic woman who made the ultimate sacrifice while in the service of others.”

Among this year’s recipients was Davitt Walsh, who in March rescued a four-month-old baby from the car that slipped into the water from Buncrana pier, claiming the lives of five members of the same family.

The 2016 award recipients are as follows:

  • Davitt Walsh – Michael Heffernan Gold Medal for Marine Gallantry
  • Gary Robertson – Michael Heffernan Gold Medal for Marine Gallantry
  • Skerries Coast Guard Unit – Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
  • Dean Coleman – Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
  • Gavin Byrne – Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
  • Brian Kehoe, Ruairí Nunn, Sam Nunn and Niall McGee – Michael Heffernan Bronze Medal for Marine Gallantry
  • The crew of Castletownbere RNLI – Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
  • Charlie Hennigar – Michael Heffernan Bronze Medal for Marine Gallantry
  • The crew of Rescue 116, Dublin Airport – Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
  • Richard Desay – Marine Meritorious Service Medal
  • The officers and crew of Lough Swilly RNLI – Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
  • Dean Tracey and Paul Dolan – Michael Heffernan Bronze Medal for Marine Gallantry
  • The crew of Kinsale RNLI – Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service

The awards are to recognise outstanding acts of courage, heroism, skill and initiative in the context of marine emergency incidents. The scheme also recognises exceptional dedication to duty in the execution of Ireland’s marine emergency response.

The Marine Gallantry award is presented in the form of a medal, called the Michael Heffernan Medal for Marine Gallantry in memory of an individual who lost his life during a marine incident a number of years ago. Three levels of medal may be awarded — gold, silver or bronze — based on the level of gallantry involved. The medal is awarded in gold, silver or bronze.

A second award, Marine Meritorious Service Medal, may be awarded where outstanding meritorious service has been provided to, or within the remit of, the Irish Coast Guard. The person must have demonstrated exceptional dedication to duty, coupled with skill and initiative, in the execution of the service being provided.

A Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation may be awarded for meritorious service where outstanding dedication to duty over a career of service can be demonstrated, or for an act of particular meritorious dedication, showing skill and initiative, but which is not of an order for receipt of a Meritorious Service or Marine Gallantry medal.

The National Marine Gallantry and Meritorious Service Awards Committee is chaired by Bryan Dobson of RTÉ. Members of the committee include representatives of the Irish Sailing Association; Irish Water Safety; Irish Harbour Masters Association; Bord Iascaigh Mhara; Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; as well as other independent members.

The first award ceremony took place in February 1999 and the awards ceremony was last held on 23 October 2014.

Published in News Update

#Rescue - A German national clad in only shorts, a fleece and a hat was rescued from the English Channel seven miles off the British coast on Sunday morning (9 October).

But according to BreakingNews.ie, there have been conflicting reports as to how the stand-up paddleboarder wound up in his predicament, following his discovery by a diving team off Dover at first light.

First indications that the tourist had set off from France the night before to cross to the UK had been met with scepticism by one of the divers who first approached him.

“His claim was that he’d left [France] at midnight and had managed to paddle something like 14 odd miles in seven hours. It’s a bit odd,” diver Chris Webb told The Independent.

However, the Dover Marina Facebook page now says the paddler has been identified as Alexander Hahn, so set off a number of weeks ago from Coburg following the waterways of Germany and France towards Britain.

Published in News Update

#Coastguard - Early this morning the Sligo-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter completed the medical evacuation of an injured crewman from a large tanker some 350km off Eagle Island in Co Mayo.

The overnight operation was jointly co-ordinated with the UK Coastguard who had initially been alerted by the tanker, which is on a transatlantic voyage to the Orkney Islands.

Weather conditions on scene were described as reasonable with northwesterly winds of up to 40km per hour.

The injured crewman was airlifted by Rescue 118 shortly before 8am, and the helicopter was due back in Sligo before 10.30am for transfer of the casualty to Sligo University Hospital.

Published in Coastguard
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