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Displaying items by tag: Rescue 117

It’s feared that Waterford could lose its Irish Coast Guard helicopter base following the recent €800 million request for tender to renew the search-and-rescue contract, as The Times reports.

The tender document issued in December for a new long-term SAR service contract calls for the provision of a minimum of three helicopters with a fixed-wing aircraft on standby.

CHC Ireland — the current contractor on a 10-year, €600 million deal since 2012 — operates the existing service with five helicopters flying from four bases around the coast: in Dublin, Shannon, Sligo and Waterford, the latter of which flies with the code Rescue 117.

The new contract process comes as the Irish Coast Guard embarks on a series of reforms in the wake of the final report into the Rescue 116 tragedy as well as personnel issues afflicting the volunteer unit at Doolin. This week the coastguard issued a revised Safety Statement in support of these changes.

The Times has more on the story HERE (subscription required).

Published in Coastguard

Individuals who risked their own lives to aid others in peril on the water made up the bulk of this year’s National Bravery Awards, which were presented by the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl on Friday (12 November).

The ceremony at Farmleigh House in Dublin’s Phoenix Park brought recipients together to receive their Certificates of Bravery for 17 acts of bravery. There were also nine Bronze Medals for Bravery awarded, while another six recipients received Silver Medals for Bravery.

“What these awards celebrate is the noblest impulse within a human being, to risk their life in order to save another,” the Ceann Comhairle said.

“We honour people who leaped into stormy seas, who braved swollen rivers, climbed down cliffs, assisted at road traffic collisions and performed other remarkable deeds. Through their actions there are people alive today who would undoubtedly have died.”

The crew of the Waterford-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 were each awarded a Certificate of Bravery for their efforts to evacuate seven from a fishing vessel that sank at Kenmare Bay in March this year.

Sarah Courtney, Ronan Flanagan and Adrian O’Hara from Waterford and Aaron Hyland from Galway each received Certificates of Bravery, and for her actions Sarah Courtney was also awarded a Silver Medal.

Four visiting Americans were commended after leaping into action to rescue a young girl who was swept out to sea on an inflatable at Portmarnock Beach in July 2019.

Walter Butler — a member of the US Coast Guard — and his relatives Declan Butler, Eoghan Butler and Alexander Hugh Thomson from Arlington, Virginia each received a Certificate of Bravery.

Another incident at Portmarnock the following month saw Gerard Tyrrell receive a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery for his rescue of two girls blown out to sea on an inflatable flamingo.

Shane Moloney was commended for saving his father Noel’s life after the boat they were moving out of a field behind their North Cork home struck overhead power lines, delivering a near-fatal 10,000-volt electric shock.

Beth Darrer and Niamh McMahon each received a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery for their swift response to help rescue four young men who got into difficulty in the water at Inchydoney Beach in May 2020.

For her selfless actions in rescuing a father and his three daughters swept out to sea off Portsalon Beach in Co Donegal in July 2020, Jane Friel was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

Scott McQuaid was honoured with a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery for his rescue of a young boy who had got into difficulty with his father when their kayak capsized at Ardreigh Lock on the River Barrow in Athy in February this year.

Zoey Lally rescued three teenage boys who were swept into the sea from Easkey Pier by a high wave in March this year, and received a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery for her actions.

A number of gardaí were also commended in this years awards, with Garda Keenan McGavisk and Garda Róisín O’Donnell receiving Bronze Medals for their rescue of a distressed man from a fast-flowing river in Ardee, Co Louth in March last year, and Garda Caroline O’Brien also getting a Bronze Medal for saving the life of a young man who entered the water near St John’s Quay in Kilkenny in July 2019.

And 26 years after her crucial lifesaving actions, a Silver Medal and Certificate of Braver were awarded to Susan Hackett for the rescue of two young people who got into difficulty while swimming in the River Suir new Newcastle, Co Tipperary in the summer of 1995.

The National Bravery Awards are awarded annually by Comhairle na Míre Gaile – the Deeds of Bravery Council – which was founded in 1947 to enable State recognition of exceptional acts of bravery.

The council is chaired by the Ceann Comhairle and includes the Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, the Lord Mayors of Dublin and Cork, the Garda Commissioner, the President of the Association of City & County Councils and the chairman of the Irish Red Cross.

Published in Rescue

Cork Beo reports that a body was recovered off the West Cork coast in a multi-agency operation for a missing person on Sunday (27 December).

Thermal imaging was used to locate the remains in the area of the Old Head of Kinsale.

The crew of the Irish Coast Guard’s Waterford-based helicopter Rescue 117 were praised on social media for their bravery in recovering the body amid severe winds ahead of Storm Bella.

The incident came within days of the discovery of a body in the water at Dun Laoghaire’s Coal Harbour pier, which is being investigated by gardaí.

Published in Coastguard

On Saturday morning (29 August) the Irish Coast Guard was called on short notice to carry out the high-priority transport of a child to the UK for urgent medical treatment.

The Waterford-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 117 was scrambled for the important mission, with the crew flying the little boy to RAF Northolt in north-west London.

From there the young patient was transferred to the city’s King’s College Hospital for a lifesaving organ transplant.

“This multi-agency operation saw many people and agencies involved,” the Irish Coast Guard said. “Well done to all those involved.”

Published in Coastguard

A man was taken to hospital with hand injuries by Irish Coast Guard helicopter after a Mayday call on a yacht off Kilmore Quay on Saturday (29 June).

The local RNLI lifeboat crew were en route to another vessel that had requested a tow when the call came in from a 12m yacht some 13 miles south-west of the Co Wexford village.

It was reported that as the yacht’s crew were adjusting a sail, a piece of rigging had parted and seriously injured the skipper’s hand.

The lifeboat arrived just after the Waterford-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 117, whose crew determined the best course of action was to transfer the casualty to the lifeboat for pain relief.

He was subsequently winched to the helicopter and flown to Waterford University Hospital for further treatment.

Published in Rescue

#Lifeboats - The RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat based in Rosslare Harbour was launched at 10.38pm on Saturday night (2 March) to assist a passenger onboard an Irish Ferries vessel bound for Pembroke in Wales.

The passenger ferry Oscar Wilde, which was located 20 miles off the Wexford coast at the time, asked for assistance in evacuating a passenger who had become ill.

Sea conditions were unfavourable for the volunteers on the Rosslare Harbour lifeboat to go alongside the ferry.

The Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 from Waterford was also tasked and quickly arrived on scene. After attempts to airlift the casualty it was deemed too dangerous.

The Oscar Wilde returned to Rosslare Europort at 1am, where an ambulance was waiting to bring the casualty to hospital. The RNLI volunteers in their Severn class lifeboat stood by the passenger ferry for the duration.

Sea conditions were very poor at the time, with a strong Force 7 to 8 gale and heavy rain.

Coxswain Eamonn O’Rourke commented that the volunteer crew of the lifeboat had to endure very challenging conditions.

Speaking afterwards, Rosslare Harbour RNLI lifeboat operations manager David Maloney said: “Conditions at sea tonight were challenging for our coxswain and lifeboat crew and I would like to commend them for their efforts in enduring a rough passage in the dark, and late at night on a Saturday evening, to be of assistance.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Coastguard - The Irish Coast Guard crew winching two teenagers from the sea when one fell from her harness had never lifted two casualties at the same time before, as BreakingNews.ie reports.

Aoife Winterlich, 14, was one of four teenagers who had been swept into the sea off Hook Head during an outing for venture scouts on 6 December 2015.

Two managed to swim ashore but Winterlich got into difficulty in heavy seas. The fourth, a 15-year-old boy, attempted to keep her afloat until rescue arrived minutes later.

It was when Rescue 117’s crew attempted to transfer the pair into the helicopter that Winterlich slipped from her strop some 45 feet back into the water.

Records show that the winchman was back in the water to retrieve Winterlich within moments, and that she was in the helicopter just over a minute after.

The inquest into Winterlich’s death this week heard that she died from lack of oxygen to the brain resulting from near drowning, and that there was no evidence of contributing physical trauma.

Prof Maureen O’Sullivan of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, who conducted the post-mortem, said the fall was unlikely to have contributed to Winterlich’s death, according to RTÉ News.

The inquest also heard that the coastguard helicopter’s winchman and winch operator had never performed a lift of more than one casualty in a single lift.

Winch operator Neville Murphy told Dublin Coroner’s Court the situation that led his college Sean Jennings to descend with two winch strops was “unprecedented”.

“Two people in the water, that generally doesn’t happen,” he said. “We can only train to certain limits. We can never know what we are faced with as we look out the door of the aircraft.”

Earlier this year, the Air Accident Investigation Unit report into the incident concluded there was “nothing to suggest that the winchman’s decision-making was anything other than sound”.

The inquest is adjourned till October. BreakingNews.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

#Rescue - The Arklow lifeboat joined Courtown RNLI and the Irish Coast Guard in a multi-agency rescue on Friday evening (11 August) after a teenage girl fell from an inflatable ‘doughnut’ being towed by a jet ski in Courtown Harbour.

Once on scene, around a mile east of Ardamine Beach south of Courtown, the Arklow lifeboat volunteers assisted their Courtown colleagued who were already in the water dealing with the casualty, a 13-year-old girl with suspected spinal injuries.

Arklow RNLI worked to clear the area of other vessels to allow for a safe airlift by the Waterford-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 117.

In the process, they picked up three other casualties — kayakers who had entered the water to assist in the rescue but found themselves adrift.

Independent.ie and The Irish Times have more on the story.

Published in Rescue

#Skibbereen - TheJournal.ie reports that a 14-year-old boy is in critical condition after he was struck in the head by a boom while yachting off Skibbereen yesterday morning (Saturday 24 June).

The teenager was airlifted to Cork University Hospital by the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117, and the latest news from Independent.ie is that his condition was improving.

Elsewhere yesterday, Howth Coast Guard attended a 53-year-old man with serious head injuries sustained while kitesurfing off Sutton in North Co Dublin.

And Shannon’s Rescue 115 was called to Inis Mór in the Aran Islands for the medevac of a woman who suffered spinal injuries while taking part in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series event.

Published in News Update

#Rescue - A tanker crewman was airlifted to hospital from the Port of Cork yesterday evening (Saturday 17 June) after sustaining a leg injury on board his vessel, as the Irish Examiner reports.

The Waterford-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 was dispatched for the medevac of the casualty, who is thought to have broken his leg after a cable or rope snapped, after the local fire service was unable to remove him safely.

The Irish Examiner has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue
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The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth '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.

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

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

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.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is 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. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • 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

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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