As RTÉ News reports, “mounting staffing and training problems” will force the Air Corps to ground the Athlone-based AC112 air ambulance it has been using since 2012 for a total of 16 days — four each month from now until February.
The Department of Defence confirmed in a statement that the coastguard “will provide reserve cover to the national ambulance service” in line with the establishment of the Emergency Aeromedical Service (EAS) in 2015.
The Irish Community Rapid Response air ambulance based in Rathcoole, Co Cork will also be available “and the potential for it to provide increased support is also being explored”.
The statement added: “The priority is to provide the best service possible using all available resources during the four-day periods each month when the Air Corps are not available for EAS taskings.
“This interruption is regrettable but necessary from a safety and governance perspective.”
The coastguard’s helicopter fleet was previously trialled as an air ambulance service, and subsequently engaged in night-time cover.
But the arrangement was scaled back two years ago over concerns with pilot doing double duty for patient transfers.
“Specifically, the 275N section of the lifejacket failed to fully function when activated,” said an email to IRCG officers in charge as seen by media yesterday.
The suspension does not affect the Irish Coast Guard’s shoreline and cliff rescue teams.
Four people have been rescued from an island off the Sligo coast after their vessel washed up on rocks.
Bundoran RNLI’s volunteer crew launched to the incident at Inishmurray Island yesterday afternoon (Sunday 3 November) along with the Irish Coast Guard’s Sligo-based helicopter Rescue 118, which airlifted the casualties to hospital
The RNLI says the lifeboat made efforts to recover their boat from the rocks but due to a three-metre swell, it was decided to leave it in place.
Later, volunteer helm Rory O’Connor said: “The four casualties were lucky on this occasion and we are thankful that they alerted the coastguard when they did. This was another callout with a good outcome.”
Lifeboat press officer Kate Callanan said: “The skipper of the motorboat realised immediately that he needed assistance and as he had been watching the lifeboat and helicopter demonstration minutes before, he knew that the quickest way to alert the lifeboat was to call them directly on channel 16 on his VHF.”
Within minutes the all-weather lifeboat — with coxswain Kieran Cotter, mechanic Cathal Cottrell and crew members Emma Lupton, Ronnie Carthy, David Ryan, Jim Griffiths, Ryan O’Mahony and Eoin Ryan — was alongside the 33ft motor vessel.
Another motorboat skippered by former lifeboat crewman Torsten Marten was also nearby at the time, and he was drafted to assist in transferring two lifeboat crew to the casualty vessel rather than having to launch the lifeboat’s Y-boat.
The casualty boat was then secured alongside the all-weather lifeboat and brought to the safety of Baltimore’s North Pier.
Callanan reminded all boaters: “It is vital for anyone going to sea to always carry a means of communication such as a mobile phone or VHF in order to raise the alarm should they require help.”
The callout came on the eve of Baltimore RNLI’s centenary celebration yesterday (Sunday 8 September), at which it named its new Atlantic 85 inshore vessel 100 years to the date since the arrival of its first ever lifeboat.
Elsewhere, Skerries RNLI launched on Thursday night (5 September) to tow a razor fishing boat with two on board that struck rocks off Red Island and damaged its steering.
Several emergency calls were reportedly made by onlookers at the scene, where the Mulroy coastguard unit and Tory Island ferry Queen of Aran also stood by to assist.
A spokesperson for the Irish Coast Guard acknowledged the fortunate outcome, and singled out the crew of the Sligo-based SAR helicopter Rescue 118 “for their efficient response to a difficult challenge”.
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.
He was subsequently winched to the helicopter and flown to Waterford University Hospital for further treatment.
Greencastle, Co Donegal’s Irish Coast Guard team were tasked by the IRCG emergency operations centre at Malin to a rock climber who got into difficulty at Hell’s Hole on Malin Head on Tuesday evening (28 May)
The climber was trapped 45 metres down the cliff in a dangerous location, the cliff face being unpredictable with loose rocks and particularly so during hours of darkness.
If you see someone in difficulty, on the cliffs, coast or water, do not hesitate to dial 112 or 999 and ask for the coastguard.
In this instance the flight was not interrupted, but gardaí are investigating and the coastguard has reiterated the dangers of flashing potentially blinding lights at any aircraft.
A recent spate of laser pointer incidents has been reported at Belfast International Airport. TheJournal.ie has more on that story HERE.
The crew immediately responded and began a search for the casualties who were were quickly located, taken aboard the boat and returned to a safe location ashore.
“The callers did the right thing when they realised they were in trouble: they called 112 and asked for the coastguard,” said Howth Coast Guard in a statement.
The Irish Coast Guard issued a reminder for people to be careful walking on shorelines in fine weather, as tides can rise quickly and cut one off from the shore faster than expected.
If you find yourself in this situation, immediately call 112 or 999 and ask for the coastguard.
The lifeboat, under the command of coxswain Dean Hegarty, launched shortly after 2pm after Valentia Coast Guard radio received reports that a visitor to the island off the Beara Peninsula had gone missing.
Once on scene, the lifeboat commenced a search of the area while Rescue 115 did a sweep of the island and spotted a person who fitted the description of the casualty.
The coastguard helicopter lowered a winchman and confirmed that the casualty was safe and well. All emergency services were then stood down.
Commenting on the callout, launching authority Paddy O’Connor said: “We are delighted at the very swift response of the crew and that the casualty was located safe and well.”