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Displaying items by tag: Irish Coast Guard

Morale among the Irish Coast Guard’s volunteers is at an all-time now, an Oireachtas committee has been told.

RTÉ News reports on yesterday’s hearing of the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications, which was addressed by former coastguard volunteers who believe they were unfairly dismissed from their roles.

They included Bernard Lucas, widower of the late coastguard volunteer Caitriona Lucas who died during a rescue operation off Kilkee in September 2016.

Bernard Lucas formerly served with Doolin Coast Guard, which was at the centre of controversy following the sudden resignation of six volunteers last November which effectively shut down the unit.

Suggestions of bullying that had allegedly been simmering in Doolin for years prompted a statement in the Dáil at the time referencing a “toxic” working environment within the service.

That sentiment was reiterated yesterday as representatives of the Irish Coast Guard Volunteers Representative Group claimed that a climate of fear has been instilled by upper management.

RTÉ News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
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Calls have been made for greater public awareness over the risks of incoming tides after three people were rescued off Sandymount earlier this week.

A multi-agency response involving Dun Laoghaire RNLI and the Irish Coast Guard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116 led to the casualties’ successful retrieval after they became stranded on a sandbank on Tuesday (26 April).

Speaking to Independent.ie, a local councillor called for a major advertising campaign to highlight the dangers of tides at Sandymount, which has become notorious for such incidents.

“This happens far too often and the Coast Guard use a huge amount of resources every year to rescue people who find themselves in this situation,” Fine Gael’s Cllr James Geoghegan said. Independent.ie has more on the story HERE.

The news comes in the same week as a joint appeal from the coastguard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland to take care when on or near the water this May Bank Holiday weekend, as reported earlier on Afloat.ie.

Published in Water Safety

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

The Irish Coast Guard has reported an 12% increase in the overall number of incidents coordinated during 2021.

And among these, the search and rescue agency saved 474 lives over the course of the year — though tragically 68 lives were lost to drownings, according to its end-of-year statement.

The coastguard said its biggest increases were recorded in April, with 249 incidents in comparison with 139 in April 2020, and in July with 469 incidents, compared with 339 for the same period in 2020.

From September onwards, activity was similar to 2020. The total number of incidents coordinated is expected to reach 2,970 in comparison with 2,665 in 2020.

In the key category of “lives saved”, which is defined as “assistance provided that prevented loss of life, severe risk to life, or protracted hospitalisation”, the coastguard recorded 474 individual responses in the course of 2021.

The agency highlighted the rescue of seven crew members from a fishing vessel off Kenmare Bay on Saturday 27 March, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Four of the crew of the Waterford-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 117 were recognised in the National Bravery Awards last month, with winch operator Sarah Courtney receiving a silver medal for her actions amid exceptionally challenging conditions.

Irish Coast Guard director Eugene Clonan said that since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the key challenge has been to ensure the 24/7 delivery of coastguard SAR services.

These services comprise the three rescue coordination centres, volunteer units around the island and the contracted helicopter service, along with the RNLI and community inshore rescue service and the support of the Naval Service and Air Corps.

“We are indebted to the men and women that make up our SAR community, for the discipline and commitment they have demonstrated in facing the challenge presented by Covid and in maintaining service availability throughout the year,” Clonan said.

In addition, the coastguard says it was was notified of a total of 68 drownings in 2021, which is seven fewer than in 2020. The agency says it works closely with Water Safety Ireland (WSI) in monitoring drowning risks and trends, and supports WSI in compilation of drowning statistics.

The coastguard thanks the public for their cooperation and support during the year, including the “positive response” in adhering with severe weather warnings, “and extends best wishes for a safe 2022”.

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, use marine VHF Channel 16 or dial 112 and ask for the coastguard.

Published in Coastguard
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Fethard RNLI joined Kilmore Quay’s coastguard unit in a multi-agency operation to rescue local residents trapped in their homes by heavy flooding on Christmas Day, according to RTÉ News.

It’s reported that a number of people in the village of Bridgetown were safely removed by lifeboat, while motorists who were either cut off by the flooding or trapped in the water were also assisted.

Wexford Civil Defence and Wexford Fire Service also joined in the rescue effort on Saturday 25 December, as Kilmore Quay Coast Guard acknowledged on social media.

Heavy rainfall delayed the arrival of the Waterford-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 — and was also responsible for the erosion of bridges near Enniscorthy due to the swelling of the River Borough (Boro), a tributary of the River Slaney.

In a statement, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said his department “will provide full support for Wexford County Council and other councils as they address and repair the damage caused by the flash floods”.

Published in Rescue

The Irish Coast Guard is appealing to all mariners and coastal communities to be mindful of the severe weather warnings and to note the imminent arrival of Storm Barra.

The coastguard is also appealing to anybody considering any form of coastal or open water recreation to be mindful of the risk posed by forecasted Storm conditions.

Walkers are advised to avoid any exposed areas, including seafront and cliff walkways, as they may be hit by sudden gusts, exposing themselves to unnecessary danger.

All other forms of open water recreation should be avoided, including by experienced practitioners, as it may result in arousing public concerns and causing rescue services to be alerted.

A small craft weather warning is already in place and Met Éireann is forecasting that gale to storm force southeasterly winds will extend to all coastal areas from early Tuesday, veering west to northwest in direction later.

As reported earlier on Afloat.ie, winds are forecast to reach Violent Storm Force 11 on Irish coastal waters from West Cork to Galway. The combination of southeasterly winds, spring tides and low pressure provide for an increased risk of localised flooding.

Coastguard operations manager Micheál O’Toole appealed to the public to remain vigilant, to avoid any unnecessary travel and to monitor Met Éireann weather forecasts.

“Remember: stay back, stay high, stay dry. If you see somebody in trouble on the water or on the coast, dial 112 or use marine VHF Channel 16, and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in Weather

Members of Courtown/Arklow Coast Guard were recently presented with medals of tenure, as the Gorey Guardian reports.

And chief among them was Benjamin Murphy, who was recognised for his 40 years’ service prior to his recent retirement.

“Pulling off 40 years of service is nearly impossible to do and it’s a massive achievement as a volunteer,” David Swinburne of Courtown/Arklow Coast Guard said.

The Gorey Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

A crew member on a Spanish fishing vessel who fell ill with a suspected stroke was airlifted in an operation off the South West Coast on Thursday (2 December), as TheJournal.ie reports.

The Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon-based helicopter Rescue 115 was called to the vessel some 80 nautical miles off Castletownbere for the medevac on Thursday afternoon.

Due to poor weather in Cork and Tralee, the casualty — once winched aboard — was flown to Shannon Airport for transfer by ambulance to University Hospital Limerick for further treatment.

Rescue 115’s winchman on the deck of the Spanish fishing vessel for the medevac on Thursday | Credit: Rescue 115/FacebookRescue 115’s winchman on the deck of the Spanish fishing vessel for the medevac on Thursday | Credit: Rescue 115/Facebook

“Many thanks to the crew of Rescue 01, an Irish Air Corps Casa maritime patrol aircraft that provided top cover for us,” the coastguard team said in a statement on social media.

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

Kieran Mulvey has been appointed as a mediator to attempt to resolve the Doolin Coast Guard crisis, as RTÉ News reports.

The former director of the Workplace Relations Commission has been appointed by Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton to step in and help to find a solution for issues within the Co Clare coastguard unit.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the station has been stood down after the mass resignation of six volunteers at the start of this month following years of rancour and division between members and Irish Coast Guard management.

Welcoming the appointment, local Senator Timmy Dooley said Mulvey will bring “immense experience” to the role and that he hoped “all sides will engage”. RTÉ News has more on the story.

Last week, the chairman of the new coastguard volunteers’ representative association told Afloat’s Tom MacSweeney that personnel issues have been “a blind spot” for the coastguard. Listen to the podcast HERE.

Published in Coastguard
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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
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