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Displaying items by tag: Rescue

The Air Corps bid to deliver a search and rescue service for the eastern seaboard at less than half the cost of an international aviation firm was rejected by senior government officials as not credible, according to tender documentation.

As The Sunday Times reports, the Department of Transport rejected the Air Corps bid as consultants KPMG found that splitting the new search and rescue contract in two would increase overall costs.

The Air Corps had said it could provide cover for the east and southeast coasts for €232 million over ten years, €378 million cheaper than a commercial provider.

The Department of Transport pointed out that there was no government approval to pay for the helicopters and pilot salaries the bid required.

Days after receiving the 415-page submission from the Air Corps in March 2021, the department’s secretary-general Ken expressed doubts about “the deliverability” of the bid in an email to Jacqui McCrum, Department of Defence secretary-general.

Spratt said the Air Corps was counting helicopters and pilots in its bid before “securing the requisite approvals and funding from DPER (Department of Public Expenditure and Reform)” for their purchase and for wage costs.

“The proposal relies on the procurement of at least two additional helicopters and an increase of over 40 per cent in pilot numbers, so these issues are crucial to the overall credibility of the proposal,” Spratt said in his email to McCrum.

In an earlier letter to Spratt, McCrum said that “the success of the proposed approach to recruiting and retaining such personnel is predicated on a range of remuneration and HR policy approaches, many of which are not in keeping with current practices across the public sector … DPER buy-in and agreement is, therefore, a pre-requisite to the feasibility of the Air Corps proposal.”

The Air Corps was eventually excluded from the tender process, understood to be worth over €1 billion.

Aerossurance, a Scottish aviation consultancy, had challenged the suitability and range of the AW1391 helicopters proposed to deliver the service, but the Department of Transport said it had continued to engage with Air Corps on the basis of using larger helicopters.

The correspondence was released under the Freedom of Information Act to Senator Gerard Craughwell, who had protested about the exclusion of the Air Corps on the basis of the Aerosurrance report.

However, the department has confirmed it was ruled out because its proposal was more costly, according to consultants KMPG.

Read more in The Sunday Times here (subscription required).

Published in Rescue
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On 13 March 2017, the Rescue 116 crew of Capt. Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt. Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith took off from Dublin airport just after 11 p.m. for a medical evacuation off the west coast of Ireland. The first indication of disaster came when the crew failed to answer a radio call at 12.46 a.m. Shortly after 2 am on 14 March, sister helicopter Rescue 118 spotted a casualty and debris in the water. There would be no survivors from R116, and extensive searches failed to locate the bodies of two of the four crew.

The crash occurred just six months after the loss of experienced Irish Coast Guard volunteer Caitríona Lucas, from Doolin Coast Guard in Co. Clare, and eighteen years after the loss of four Air Corps crew who were returning from a night rescue in thick fog off the south-east coast.

In Search and Rescue, author Lorna Siggins exposes the shocking systemic flaws that led to these tragic deaths, but also looks at successful rescues where, despite all the odds, the courage and dedication of members of the Irish Coast Guard, Air Corps, RNLI, fishing crew and the volunteers who work with them have saved countless lives.

Paperback • €16.95 | £14.99. 336 pages. Preview here. On Sale Now on this link here

Published in Book Review
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Safer Waters is a unique service in Northern Ireland, established in 2020 to provide a Safety Boat service for water-based community events. The service is there to support events such as Sailing, Swimming, Paddle Boarding and Windsurfing that have no safety cover of their own or may need additional resources. Safer Waters is based in Bangor Marina and serves all communities as they will travel by sea and road to any coastal or inland location.

With several big event commitments this year, such as the Irish Youth Sailing Championships in April at Ballyholme Yacht Club and rescue and mark laying for Bangor Town Regatta in June hosted by Royal Ulster, Safer Waters is currently looking for members to join the dynamic team, both on and off the water.

Mike Meharg who heads up the organisation says he is already getting calls for event coverage this year. “Following a very busy and successful first year of operations during which we supported over nine hundred participants on the water we are receiving calls already. To help meet these commitments we could do with more members to crew our boats as well as provide shore support and communications. If you would like to try something exciting and a bit different, why not get in touch and we will take you through what we do. We can provide formal training through our RYA recognised Training Centre in Bangor Marina as well as free in-house training – all are welcome. Please visit the link below or message us if you are unsure of how you could help. You are welcome to come along and meet us at one of our training evenings”.

More here

Published in Rescue
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This bank holiday weekend, with more people expected to take part in water-based activities, the RNLI is sharing some advice and top tips to help people stay safe on the water, whether travelling to the coast or visiting inland waters.

RNLI Water Safety Lead, Kevin Rahill said: ‘This Bank Holiday weekend, many people are going to be heading to the water to enjoy themselves. We want to see people having fun in or on the water and keeping safe while doing it. By taking a few simple steps, everyone can reduce the risk of an accident.’

‘Even in Summer, water temperatures can be cold, rarely going above 15 degrees. Cold Water Shock can affect everyone. To avoid this, acclimatise to the water slowly to get used to the cold. If you fall in unexpectedly, remember to ‘Float to Live’ – lie on your back and spread your arms and legs, gently moving them to keep afloat. Keep floating until you feel your breath coming back before calling for help or swimming ashore if nearby.’

With swimming becoming increasing popular Kevin Rahill offered the following advice, ‘Always choose to swim in a lifeguarded area and swim between the flags. Stay within your depth and swim parallel to the shore. Watch out for rip currents, if you do get caught in one, try to swim parallel to the shore until you can feel you are out of the current before trying to swim shore. Inflatable toys are not suitable for any open water and should be kept for the pool. They can easily be blown offshore very quickly.’

For other activity such as water boating, sailing, canoeing, paddle boarding, wear an appropriate personal flotation device suitable for the activity, and always carry a means of calling for help.

Water safety Ireland adds:  Nine people have drowned at waterways on the island of Ireland in seven days, six at inland waterways, leading Water Safety Ireland to make a national stay safe appeal to the public throughout the Bank Holiday weekend and the month of August. People are advised to swim only at Lifeguarded waterways or in areas that are traditionally known to be safe and have ringbuoys available for rescues.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The 1.2 km Ballycastle Beach is a popular tourist destination on the Causeway Coast Route on the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland. It was the scene shortly before midday yesterday (15th July) of a serious incident, when as reported by the Belfast Telegraph, five people got into difficulty.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) said three people on water pedal bikes went into the surf zone where they were swamped by a wave before being helped onto a group leader's boat which then capsized. Two people were taken to hospital, and three people were treated at the scene by paramedics. These were two separate incidents that occurred within metres of each other and within minutes of each other. The Irish News reported that by the time emergency crews including an ambulance and the NI Air Ambulance arrived at the scene, the group had made it back to shore.

The coastguard has appealed for people to exercise caution around seaside areas this weekend after this trip to the beach almost ended in tragedy.

A spokesperson for the Coastguard said there has been an increase in such incidents this year as a result of people spending more time locally due to the pandemic. "The weather has been particularly good over the past week or so, and it's looking like that's going to be the case for the next week, so we do expect to be quite busy. Temperatures in the low 20s can be expected until at least the middle of next week. We'd also recommend if you're going to go into the beach and go into the sea, to go to a beach that has lifeguards on it, especially at the weekend".

The Police Service thanked those involved in the incident. "Thank you also to Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS), the Helimed team, Coastguard, RNLI, and all members of the public who helped, provided support to those involved and assisted with the moving of equipment and persons. All persons were transported by road ambulance to hospital as a precautionary measure with no life-threatening injuries".

A spokesperson for the Ambulance Service said four emergency crews, an officer and the charity air ambulance were called to the scene. 

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In the early evening of last Sunday (20th June) Lough Neagh rescue was tasked to a broken down motorboat with two children, three adults and a dog on board. The vessel had been making its way from Battery Harbour on the west shore of the Lough to Gawley's Gate in the southeast corner.

Lough Neagh is the largest freshwater lake by area in the British Isles at 392 square kilometres.

The Lifeboats launched and searched the broken-down boat in rough conditions and large swells. It had drifted quite a few miles off course. Once located, a crew member went aboard to check on the casualties and transferred one adult onto the lifeboat to be brought to shore.

The other lifeboat rigged a tow and brought the vessel to Maghery in the southwest corner as this was the safest option due to the wind direction and large swells. It was handed over to the awaiting Coastguard team.

Lough Neagh Rescue is a voluntary search and rescue organisation based on the shores of Lough Neagh.

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“Aquabikes” caught the attention of former Irish Times journalist Kevin Myers back in 1982.

The Irishman’s Diary writer was seriously concerned about the pressure windsurfers were putting on the RNLI Dun Laoghaire lifeboat at the time.

He had read about these “aquabikes”, made by a Japanese motorbike company, which “skid across the water, steered by handlebars”.

Although there might be “cacophonous” drawbacks, this vehicle might prove useful in rescuing windsurfers, he wrote - if it wasn’t engaged in knocking them down, or worse...

Almost 40 years later, and jetskis have proved their worth in rescue, with trained riders able to access areas of the coastline that may prove too dangerous for coast and cliff rescue crews, lifeboats or helicopters.

However, jetskis still get bad press among those who don’t understand their benefits – or those who have witnessed untrained and ill-considerate use of them. Now Clare County Council wants to ban their use altogether on a number of beaches.

The Irish Tow Surf Rescue Club has objected to a proposed jetski ban Photo: ITSRC via FacebookThe Irish Tow Surf Rescue Club has objected to a proposed jetski ban Photo: ITSRC via Facebook

Clare fireman, lifeguard and surfer Peter Conroy owes his life to a jetski rescue. He was one of the founders of the Irish Tow Surf Rescue Club which has provided training, and invaluable support to surfers, and to open water sea swimmers.

Organisers of marine events have benefited from their voluntary assistance, and the club has also provided defibrillators at a number of coastal locations.

Conroy spoke to Wavelengths this week about his rescue, and about why his club opposes the proposed ban.

Listen to Wavelengths below

And you can then view a bit more of the work of the Irish Tow Surf Rescue Club here

Published in Wavelength Podcast
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Lough Neagh Rescue was called last Friday evening to a 24ft cruiser that had lost power.

The vessel was located about 1.5 nautical miles to the east of Ballyronan on the west side of Lough Neagh.

Lifeboats were launched and located the vessel with two people on both of whom were safe and well. A towline was secured, and the vessel towed into Ballyronan Marina, where it was safely moored to the jetty.

The lifeboats returned to base, were cleaned, refuelled and are ready for the next tasking.

Lough Neagh Rescue is a Limited Company and a registered Charity. It is made up of 60 highly trained volunteers, four lifeboats, two vans and an off-road jeep, operating on the largest lake by area in the British Isles with a surface area of 151 square miles.

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Rescue agencies are reporting a record year for incidents on the water as thousands of people turned to the coastline, lakes and rivers during Covid-19.

The Irish Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have all been under pressure to comply with Covid-19 protective measures and to cope with the large number of emergency alerts.

A total of 500 people were rescued by lifeguards this season, compared to 260 last year.

The last time figures were this high was in 2013, when there were 430 rescues.

There were also no confirmed cases of lifeguards testing positive for the Covid-19.

Water Safety Ireland (WSI) has recorded the lowest number of accidental drownings, at 37 to date, compared to 62 accidental drownings in 2019.

The RNLI said its lifeboat crews have been “exceptionally busy”, with 730 call outs to date this year compared to just over 1,000 launches in the Republic last year.

Dun Laoghaire RNLI is busiest

The busiest station has been at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, Co Dublin, with nearly 100 call outs for this year so far, according to RNLI Lifesaving Lead for Ireland Owen Medland.

Both organisations had to put special Covid 19 avoidance measures in place for volunteers and lifeguards employed by local authorities.

Independent TD Catherine Connolly is calling for publication of an Irish Coast Guard analysis of one of the most high profile rescues – that of paddleboarders Sara Feeney (23) and Ellen Glynn (17) in Galway Bay on August 13th last.

Ms Connolly is among those who have paid tribute to Claddagh fisherman Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan for their rescue of Ms Feeney and Ms Glynn after 15 hours at sea. She said, however, that "lessons needed to be learned" about the search pattern in the inner bay, rather than out towards the Aran islands, and co-ordination of volunteers onshore.

In a Dáil reply to a question tabled by Ms Connolly, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said the initial search was focused along the northern shore to ascertain if they were attempting to get ashore or had got ashore.

He said the RNLI Galway lifeboat was tasked within three minutes of the initial report at 10.05 pm and the RNLI Aran lifeboat was tasked at 11.19 pm.

He said the Shannon based Coast Guard helicopter was tasked to the scene at 11.02 pm and was recorded as proceeding at 11.25 pm.

Mr Ryan said the search was moving to the south-west of Galway Bay and the Aran Islands, with aerial surface and coastal searches off the islands on the morning of their rescue, and a member of the public alerted Valentia Coast Guard to a possible sighting after 11 am on August 13th, he said.

Visibility had been very poor in the early part of the day with fog at sea till mid-morning.

Published in Rescue
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The Irish Coast Guard has asked the Government to include fixed-wing aircraft and use of drones in the new State contract for search and rescue.

As The Sunday Times reports today, tender offers for the new air/sea service, which will replace the existing €60 million a year contract, may be asked to suggest how a mixture of helicopters, fixed-wing and drones could be used – without necessarily being tied to four helicopter bases.

CHC Ireland, which operates a fleet of Sikorsky S-92 helicopters from bases at Shannon, Sligo, Dublin and Waterford for the Irish Coast Guard at a cost of €60 million annually, has been given a one-year extension to its ten-year contract to 2023.

A recent industry briefing in advance of the publication of a tender for the new service from 2024 specified that bidders should be able to deploy a helicopter to anywhere in Ireland or within 12 nautical miles of the coast in 45 minutes of being airborne and be capable of search and rescue in the Irish exclusive economic zone.

It also specified providing one Coast Guard search and surveillance aircraft - which could be fixed wing or drones - on 24-hour standby.

This would reduce the flying time and fuel expenditure of search and rescue helicopters

Questions are being asked within military circles about the need – and possible extra expense of – a dedicated fixed-wing aircraft under the control of the Irish Coast Guard, which could push the contract price up considerably.

The Air Corps is due to take delivery of two new Casa maritime patrol aircraft at a cost of €235 million.

Earlier this month, however, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney ruled out a role for the Air Corps in search and rescue.

The Air Corps pioneered helicopter rescue off this coast 40 years ago, with long-range missions undertaken by the British RAF and Royal Navy, but it was withdrawn from search and rescue in 2003 by then defence minister Michael Smith.

The Air Corps currently flies the emergency aeromedical service (EAS), based in Athlone, Co Westmeath, which recently marked a milestone by airlifting its 3000th patient.

The Irish Coast Guard flew 54 medical missions this year, with an additional two paediatric transfers to Britain. It also serves the islands and flew 91 medical evacuations from offshore communities.

Read more in The Sunday Times here

Published in Coastguard
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Shannon Foynes Port Information

Shannon Foynes Port (SFPC) are investing in an unprecedented expansion at its general cargo terminal, Foynes, adding over two-thirds the size of its existing area. In the latest phase of a €64 million investment programme, SFPC is investing over €20 million in enabling works alone to convert 83 acres on the east side of the existing port into a landbank for marine-related industry, port-centric logistics and associated infrastructure. The project, which will be developed on a phased basis over the next five years, will require the biggest infrastructure works programme ever undertaken at the port, with the entire 83 acre landbank having to be raised by 4.4 metres. The programme will also require the provision of new internal roads and multiple bridge access as well as roundabout access.

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