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#Coastguard - The late Irish Coast Guard volunteer Caitriona Lucas has been recognised in this year’s National Bravery Awards.

The Posthumous Gold Medal and Certificate of Bravery were presented to Lucas’ family at Farmleigh House yesterday (Friday 20 October) a year after she died during a search operation in Kilkee when her RIB capsized.

“Catriona’s courage and selfless action on that day says everything about her — her strength of character and spirit and willingness to help others,” said Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó’ Fearghaíl, who presented the awards to 15 recipients.

“It is also a reminder of how committed and brave members of our emergency services put their lives on the line on a daily basis to help and protect their communities.

“Caitriona’s family accepted a Gold Medal for Bravery in recognition of her courage, which is the highest award possible.”

Others recognised at the ceremony yesterday include Darren McMahon, who was awarded a Certificate of Bravery for his attempt to rescue his brother from a kayak trapped in a weir gate in Ennis.

Bronze Medals and Certificates of Bravery also went to scouts Sean Baitson, Kyle Corrigan, Cory Ridge Grenelle and Philip Byrne for their attempts to rescue 14-year-old Aoife Winterlich, who died after being swept into the sea during an outing at Hook Head Lighthouse in December 2015.

Byrne in particular was noted for his efforts to keep Winterlich afloat in the rough waters before help arrived.

Published in Coastguard

#Medevac - Shannon’s Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 was involved in a medevac from the cruise liner Queen Mary 2 some 60 nautical miles off West Cork on Thursday morning (12 October), as BreakingNews.ie reports.

An elderly passenger understood to have a heart problem was treated by the ocean liner’s medical staff before transfer to the coastguard crew, who airlifted him to University Hospital Tralee.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - Castletownbere’s Irish Coast Guard team was alerted on Friday night (29 September) by Valentia Coast Guard to a medevac scheduled for the early hours of Saturday.

FV Argeles, a French fishing vessel, had an injured crewman onboard and was expected in Castletownbere some hours later.

The coastguard crew and Castletownbere HSE ambulance were waiting for the trawler when it docked at 2.40am. The two crews worked together to assess and stabilise the casualty, who had sustained back injuries after a fall.

After the casualty had been transferred to the ambulance, they were taken to Cork University Hospital for further treatment. The coastguard team were stood down at 5.10am.

Elsewhere, the Marine Rescue Coordination Centre in Dublin received a request for assistance from a yacht off the coast of Malahide on Thursday afternoon (28 September).

A crew member aboard the yacht, which was en route to Dun Laoghaire Marina, was ill and required medical attention.

It was agreed that the yacht would continue to its destination. RNLI Dun Laoghaire was sent to provide an escort and also dropped crew aboard to assist.

On arrival to the marina, Dún Laoghaire Coast Guard members greeted the yacht alongside HSE paramedics and gardaí. The ill crew member was transported to hospital for further medical attention.

Published in Coastguard

#Rescue116 - A lifejacket and helmet washed up on a beach near Blacksod in Co Mayo this weekend may belong to one of the two missing crew from the Rescue 116 tragedy earlier this year, as RTÉ News reports.

The items, which were attached together, were discovered on the shore near An Clochar yesterday morning (Saturday 30 September).

A detailed search of the area has been hampered by poor weather, with no other items found.

Winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith have been missing since the Irish Coast Guard helicopter went down at the island of Black Rock, west of Blacksod, on 14 March.

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick was recovered at the scene but was pronounced dead in hospital shortly after. The body of Capt Mark Duffy was recovered some days later.

Elsewhere, the body of a middle-aged man was found washed up on Inis Meáin in Galway Bay last night.

RTÉ News says the discovery comes almost a fortnight to the day after a Russian national was swept into the water while sea angling near Doonbeg, some 36km south of the Aran Islands.

There was better news for the families of two fishermen feared missing in Galway Bay overnight, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Aran Islands RNLI and the Shannon-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 115 were involved in the search last night and early this morning for the pair when they were reported overdue.

But the search was called off around 10.30am when the small fishing boat, which has suffered technical issues in “challenging” conditions, returned to port under its own power.

Rescue 115 was earlier requested for a medevac from Inis Mór to University Hospital Galway.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - The Sligo-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118 conducted a medevac for a passenger on board the cruise liner Marco Polo this morning (Wednesday 27 September).

Malin Rescue Coordination Centre received an early morning request from the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), who requested the Irish Coast Guard to assume coordination of the operation.

The rendezvous with the ship took place around 190 miles west of Erris Head shortly before 8.30am. Rescue 118 was expected to arrive with the casualty at University Hospital Galway before midday.

An Air Corps Casa maritime patrol aircraft was made available to provide communications and surveillance back up, known as ‘top cover’ but had to be redeployed to conduct two separate patient transfers to UK on foot of a request from the National Ambulance Service. This role was reassigned to the Dublin-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 116.

Weather conditions at the time were described as reasonable.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - Irish Coast Guard director Chris Reynolds has paid tribute to the lives lost in the Rescue 116 and Kilkee tragedies ahead of his return from secondment in Somalia.

“The Coast Guard has lost five colleagues to accident and one, Daithi O’Cearbhallain, to cancer. I’ve lost six good friends,” said Reynolds, according to The Irish Sun.

“Not being at home and with my team in the Coast Guard has been very, very difficult,” he added.

“My first intention on my return in October is to visit our volunteer teams, co-ordination centres and helicopter bases to listen and understand how we will move forward.”

Reynolds was seconded to Somalia in July 2016 as part of an EU maritime security mission in the Horn of Africa.

Two months after his departure, coastguard volunteer Caitriona Lucas died during a search operation in Kilkee when her RIB capsized.

Six months later, Rescue 116 crashed at Black Rock in Co Mayo, claiming the lives of its four crew. Capt Dara Fitzpatrick and Capt Mark Duffy were recovered, but the bodies of winch men Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith were not found.

Published in Coastguard

#Missing - The search continued today (Tuesday 19 September) for a sea angler who was swept into the sea from a popular but treacherous fishing spot near Doonbeg in Co Clare at the weekend.

According to TheJournal.ie, the missing man and a friend, both Russian nationals, had been fishing at Pulleen Bay around 6.30am on Saturday morning (16 September) when he went into the water.

When his friend’s attempt at a rescue was unsuccessful, he is believed to have panicked and driven 60km way to Limerick to raise the alarm.

“This has happened in the past in Clare where non-Irish nationals fishing in very dangerous areas, who have little English or no English … panic and have driven miles upon miles, passed Garda stations and people on the road to raise the alarm,” said local journalist Pat Flynn.

Naval Service divers and local diving clubs have joined a number of Irish Coast Guard units from the area in the search, which has been hampered by poor visibility due to heavy coastal fog.

Meanwhile, as the Clare Herald reports, coastguard search teams expressed their dismay over the weekend as several groups of anglers continued to climb out to the rocky head where the missing man was swept away.

Published in News Update

#MCIB - An official investigation into the death of coastguard volunteer Caitriona Lucas remains ongoing, as the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) confirms.

Lucas, a volunteer for the Irish Coast Guard’s Doolin unit, died on 12 September 2016 during a search operation for a missing person in Kilkee, when the RIB in which she and two other volunteers were travelling capsized in a heavy swell.

The MCIB’s interim report outlines the details of the day in question. Investigators’ analysis, conclusions and recommendations will be reserved for the final report.

Published in MCIB

#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

#Coastguard - Irish Coast Guard helicopter crews will no longer be expected to fly inter-hospital transfers from this week, according to The Irish Times.

It’s understood that the move by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) to withdraw coastguard helicopters from night-time air ambulance cover is rooted in its unhappiness with the situation that saw 24-hour SAR pilots doing double duty for patient transfer.

The coastguard’s fleet of Sikorsky S-92 helicopters was first trialled as a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) network almost four years ago.

But HEMS rules which limit missions to pilots on 12-hour shifts with 12-hour breaks between shifts will apply from tomorrow (Tuesday 5 September).

Such overnight missions will now be taken on for the next four weeks by the Air Corps, already the primary provider of air transfers for the National Ambulance Service, using fixed-wing aircraft.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
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