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Stormy Autumn Contributed To Record 2014 Coast Guard Response Statistics

31st December 2014
Stormy Autumn Contributed To Record 2014 Coast Guard Response Statistics

#coastguard – The Coast Guard has seen a record response for 2014, with it being particularly relevant to the Shannon SAR Helicopter who flew the Bases 300th mission last week. As Afloat.ie already reported two days ago, the Coast Guard attributes the rise in the number of incidents to:

1. Prolonged warm weather during the summer
2. More people taking holidays in Ireland (which are normally taken near water)
3. Additional work undertaken by the Coast Guard helicopters assisting the national ambulance service, particularly with medevacs of patients suffering from Strokes and STEMIS - ST Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction
4. Storms and High winds in the early part of the year and coming into Autumn

The Coast Guard believes that the rise in the number of incidents shows a greater willingness of the community to seek assistance early, which is to be welcomed. The Coast Guard encourages people to call 112 when they think they're in trouble, as if you wait until you are in trouble it might be too late. With the change in weather, we see a change in the calls and a change in conditions but the message remains the same. If you do see someone in difficulty in the sea, on the shore, cliffs, lakes or rivers dial 112 or 999 and ask for the Coast Guard.

Total incidents at 2628 is up 3% on 2013 which had been the busiest year since the foundation of the modern Coast Guard in 1991. While we have seen a drop in the numbers of people assisted at 4,000 we have seen an increase in the number of people saved up 74% (260), due in part to our increased air ambulance work, which was in evidence last Monday during the multiple casualty RTA in Farranfore when two Coast Guard helicopters responded to the scene. The statistics for the number of people offered Coast Guard 'assistance' can be difficult to interpret, for example an assisted passenger vessel can increase numbers significantly by comparison with a single person lift.

• Powered pleasure craft are up 8% at 245

• Sailing vessels down 30% at 86

• Merchant vessels 69 incident (up 17%) show an increase partially due to the major storms at the start of the year

· Fishing vessels down 11% at 188 which were mainly tows for engine difficulty

• Highest riser is the punt/tender at 41 is up 116%

• Two other categories showing significant rises are Surfer requiring assistance (+92%) and Kite Surfer (+64%) these can be attributed to a couple of factors; rising popularity, high winds coming into Autumn and extended warm weather during the Summer

• Mountain rescue assists were up 28% at 96

• And Canoe/Kayak at 59 up 23% again possibly due to its rising popularity and warmer summer.

Another feature of the last number of years is the growing assistance we give to An Garda Síochána in missing person searches in coastal and remote areas. 220 missions this year represents a 38% rise.

Hoax calls have fallen by 52% but nuisance calls have risen 119% to 2,300.

Overall the total incidents involve 47 fatalities, 18 of which were on Gardaí assists.

SAR Helicopters
Shannon has seen a new Base record with 300 missions completed by last weekend and now stands at 311. This represents a 9% rise on our busiest year in 2013. Sligo (R118) has seen a 16% rise with 275 missions. However showing the biggest rise is Waterford (R117) with a 33% increase (188 missions) due to the good weather. Dublin completes the picture with 140 missions. This year saw the launch of our new S92's in Dublin and Waterford which completed the set and now all 4 bases using the improved new technology aircraft.

Speaking about the new Base record Chris Reynolds, Director of the Irish Coast Guard said: 'In noting this record number of missions I would like to voice the Coast Guard thanks for the professionalism and dedication of the crew at Rescue 115 and for the consistently high levels of mission availability that the Coast Guard have achieved in partnership with our service provider CHC Ireland. I also want to thank the crews at our bases in Dublin, Waterford, and Sligo for their fantastic work throughout the year, moving people from places of danger to places of safety, day and night winter and summer.'

Eugene Clonan, Assistant Director thanked all Coast Guard Staff and Volunteers who have responded throughout the year and also wished them all a safe 2015.

"I would like to thank all the staff and volunteers who have contributed to the many missions we have undertaken this year, and wish them all the best for the festive season. I would also like to thank the RNLI, CRBI, Gardaí, Mountain Rescue teams, the National Ambulance service, Fire Brigade, who we have worked together with so well throughout the year. I want to particularly thank the many volunteers who responded with such professionalism, whether that be the Coast Guard directly, RNLI, CRBI or Mountain Rescue teams."

Coast Guard volunteer units were called out 1, 269 times (13%rise), RNLI lifeboat tasked 819 times (-5%) and Community rescue Boats 210 (47% rise). There were 44 minor pollution incidents managed. Our Coordination centres also broadcast 61,600 marine safety broadcasts a rise of 25%, received 27,000 ferry traffic reports, 1,800 fishing vessel traffic reports and 6,000 leisure vessel traffic reports. The increased number of traffic reports logged particularly by fishing and leisure vessels is very welcome and the Coast Guard encourages anyone taking to sea to log a traffic report (in effect a sail plan) with the Coast Guard. All boat users should also tell a responsible person ashore – in effect an emergency contact – where their craft is going, when its leaving, from what port or slip, time due back and where, who is onboard, what safety and communications equipment is carried, what the craft looks like, its name/call-sign and most importantly what action to take when this estimated time of arrival back passes. This emergency contact ashore must take on this duty vigilantly and contact the Coast Guard immediately once they become concerned. Finally we would like to remind all who go on the water to don a lifejacket and keep it on. There is no excuse for not wearing a lifejacket and we would encourage every partner, friend or relation who knows a boater with no lifejacket to get one and wear it.

Note
Lives saved are those which were in grave and imminent danger and would otherwise have been lost but for IRCG intervention
Lives assisted were those not in imminent danger but assisted by IRCG to alleviate the predicament in which they found themselves

Published in Coastguard
Afloat.ie Team

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Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's 4th Blue Light service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

Introduction

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions around 2000 times (40 times to assist mountain rescues and 200 times to carry out aeromedical HEMS missions on behalf of the HSE), Coast Guard volunteer units will respond 1000 times and RNLI and community lifeboats will be tasked by our Coordination Centres about 950 times
  • evacuate medical patients off our Islands to hospital on 100 occasions
  • assist other nations' Coast Guards about 200 times
  • make around 6,000 maritime safety broadcasts to shipping, fishing and leisure craft users
  • carry out a safety on the water campaign that targets primary schools and leisure craft users, including at sea and beach patrols
  • investigate approximately 50 maritime pollution reports

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

List of Coast Guard Units in Ireland

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin
  • Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

The roles of the Irish Coast Guard

The main roles of the Irish Coast Guard are to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction.

Each year the Irish Coast Guard co-ordinates the response to thousands of incidents at sea and on the cliffs and beaches of Ireland. It does this through its Marine Rescue Centres which are currently based in:

  • Dublin
  • Malin Head (Co Donegal)
  • Valentia Island (Co Kerry).

Each centre is responsible for search and rescue operations.

The Dublin National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC) provides marine search and rescue response services and co-ordinates the response to marine casualty incidents within the Irish Pollution Responsibility Zone/EEZ.

The Marine Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) Valentia and MRSC Malin Head are 24/7 centres co-ordinating search and rescue response in their areas of responsibility.

The Marine Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Ballycotton and Clifden.

MRSC Malin Head is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle.

MRCC Dublin is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Carlingford Lough and Ballycotton.

Each MRCC/MRSC broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and, in some cases, MF radio in accordance with published schedules.

Maritime safety information that is broadcast by the three Marine Rescue Sub-centres includes:

  • navigational warnings as issued by the UK Hydrographic Office
  • gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings as issued by the Irish Meteorological Office.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

The Coast Guard can contract specialised aerial surveillance or dispersant spraying aircraft at short notice internationally.

Helicopter tasks include:

  • the location of marine and aviation incident survivors by homing onto aviation and marine radio distress transmissions, by guidance from other agencies, and by visual, electronic and electro-optical search
  • the evacuation of survivors from the sea, and medical evacuees from all manner of vessels including high-sided passenger and cargo vessels and from the islands
  • the evacuation of personnel from ships facing potential disaster
  • search and or rescue in mountainous areas, caves, rivers, lakes and waterways
  • the transport of offshore fire-fighters (MFRTs) or ambulance teams (MARTs) and their equipment following a request for assistance
  • the provision of safety cover for other search and rescue units including other Marine Emergency Service helicopters
  • pollution, casualty and salvage inspections and surveillance and the transport of associated personnel and equipment
  • inter-agency training in all relevant aspects of the primary role
  • onshore emergency medical service, including evacuation and air ambulance tasks
  • relief of the islands and of areas suffering from flooding or deep snow

The secondary roles of the helicopter are:

  • the exercise of the primary search, rescue and evacuation roles in adjacent search and rescue regions
  • assistance to onshore emergency services, such as in the evacuation of high-rise buildings
  • public safety awareness displays and demonstrations
  • providing helicopter expertise for seminars and training courses

The Irish Coast Guard provides aeronautical assets for search and rescue in the mountains of Ireland. Requests for Irish Coast Guard assets are made to the Marine Rescue Centres.

Requests are accepted from An Garda Síochána and nominated persons in Mountain Rescue Teams.

Information courtesy of Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (July 2019)

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