As The Irish Examiner reports, new standard operating procedures (SOPs) to adhere with Covid-19 public health and safety guidelines have changed the environment and placed extra pressure on crews.
All around the coast, inshore and all-weather RNLI lifeboats are also being scrubbed with extra vigour – right down to disinfection of handsets on marine radios.
“We had to make a very quick shift, and adopt new standard operating procedures early on,” Courtmacsherry coxswain Sean O’Farrell says.
Crews going to sea with standard RNLI personal protective equipment (PPE) wear surgical masks under helmet visors, along with double sets of gloves.
The new measures extend to alerting crews. Every volunteer who responds to a pager message must stay in their car outside the station, unless and until called.
“We can’t risk an infection that could affect key staff and volunteers, and close down an entire lifeboat station for two weeks,” O’Farrell adds.
“We’re getting used to it very quickly because we are already a lot busier for this time of year,” his colleague, RNLI Wicklow station mechanic Brendan Copeland says.
Water Safety Ireland chief executive John Leech had warned that as Covid-19 restrictions were lifted and travel plans cancelled, there could be the “greatest number in history” on our waterways. Almost two million people live within five kilometres of the coast.
His deputy, Roger Sweeney, confirms there have already been incidents where people have ignored red flags, hoisted at guarded swimming locations to indicate conditions are too dangerous for swimming.
Read more on The Irish Examiner report here