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Fethard RNLI Mark Anniversary with Major Sea Search & Rescue Exercise at Baginbun Beach

13th September 2021
The search and rescue display off Baginbun Beach in Wexford
The search and rescue display off Baginbun Beach in Wexford

Over the weekend Fethard RNLI marked the 25th anniversary of the reopening of their lifeboat station, with an impressive search and rescue display off Baginbun Beach in Wexford. The search and rescue demonstration involved Fethard RNLI and their flanking lifeboat stations, Dunmore East RNLI and Kilmore Quay RNLI along with Fethard Coast Guard and Rescue 117. The Wexford based lifeboat station had been off service for a period of 82 years before locals were successful in getting the historic lifeboat station reopened with an inshore lifeboat in 1996.

As the weather held off, a crowd gathered to observe lifeboat crews from Fethard, Dunmore East and Kilmore Quay, carry out a scenario which saw the three RNLI lifeboat crews work as a team to form search patterns to locate survivors of a fictional light aircraft, which had reportedly come down just off Baginbun Head. When located, the casualties were brought ashore where the volunteer crew of Fethard Lifeboat administered casualty care and transferred them into the care of Fethard Coast Guard. In the final part of the exercise, Waterford based Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 flew overhead; in this scenario the helicopter crew would have airlifted the casualties onboard to receive more urgent medical care and transport to hospital.

Also present on the day were members of the RNLI’s Water Safety team, who provided advice and handed out waterproof pouches to water sports enthusiasts for the safe keeping of their mobile phones when they are out on the water.

Speaking about the joint exercise to mark the 25th anniversary, Volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager for Fethard RNLI, Walter Foley said, ‘This major exercise between the three RNLI lifeboat stations, Fethard Coast Guard and Rescue117 shows the public the services that are available to them when things go wrong. It highlights the importance of always carrying a means of calling for help on your person and to call 999 or 112 if you or someone else gets into trouble.’

Walter continued saying ‘We, at Fethard RNLI, would like to thank all the volunteers who gave up their time to take part in the exercise, and we would especially like to thank the public, our supporters, who came out even when the weather was not looking too great. It’s been an incredible 25 years and we look forward to serving our community for many more years to come.’

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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

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