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Displaying items by tag: Rescue

Rescue agencies are reporting a record year for incidents on the water as thousands of people turned to the coastline, lakes and rivers during Covid-19.

The Irish Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have all been under pressure to comply with Covid-19 protective measures and to cope with the large number of emergency alerts.

A total of 500 people were rescued by lifeguards this season, compared to 260 last year.

The last time figures were this high was in 2013, when there were 430 rescues.

There were also no confirmed cases of lifeguards testing positive for the Covid-19.

Water Safety Ireland (WSI) has recorded the lowest number of accidental drownings, at 37 to date, compared to 62 accidental drownings in 2019.

The RNLI said its lifeboat crews have been “exceptionally busy”, with 730 call outs to date this year compared to just over 1,000 launches in the Republic last year.

Dun Laoghaire RNLI is busiest

The busiest station has been at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, Co Dublin, with nearly 100 call outs for this year so far, according to RNLI Lifesaving Lead for Ireland Owen Medland.

Both organisations had to put special Covid 19 avoidance measures in place for volunteers and lifeguards employed by local authorities.

Independent TD Catherine Connolly is calling for publication of an Irish Coast Guard analysis of one of the most high profile rescues – that of paddleboarders Sara Feeney (23) and Ellen Glynn (17) in Galway Bay on August 13th last.

Ms Connolly is among those who have paid tribute to Claddagh fisherman Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan for their rescue of Ms Feeney and Ms Glynn after 15 hours at sea. She said, however, that "lessons needed to be learned" about the search pattern in the inner bay, rather than out towards the Aran islands, and co-ordination of volunteers onshore.

In a Dáil reply to a question tabled by Ms Connolly, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said the initial search was focused along the northern shore to ascertain if they were attempting to get ashore or had got ashore.

He said the RNLI Galway lifeboat was tasked within three minutes of the initial report at 10.05 pm and the RNLI Aran lifeboat was tasked at 11.19 pm.

He said the Shannon based Coast Guard helicopter was tasked to the scene at 11.02 pm and was recorded as proceeding at 11.25 pm.

Mr Ryan said the search was moving to the south-west of Galway Bay and the Aran Islands, with aerial surface and coastal searches off the islands on the morning of their rescue, and a member of the public alerted Valentia Coast Guard to a possible sighting after 11 am on August 13th, he said.

Visibility had been very poor in the early part of the day with fog at sea till mid-morning.

Published in Water Safety
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The Irish Coast Guard has asked the Government to include fixed-wing aircraft and use of drones in the new State contract for search and rescue.

As The Sunday Times reports today, tender offers for the new air/sea service, which will replace the existing €60 million a year contract, may be asked to suggest how a mixture of helicopters, fixed-wing and drones could be used – without necessarily being tied to four helicopter bases.

CHC Ireland, which operates a fleet of Sikorsky S-92 helicopters from bases at Shannon, Sligo, Dublin and Waterford for the Irish Coast Guard at a cost of €60 million annually, has been given a one-year extension to its ten-year contract to 2023.

A recent industry briefing in advance of the publication of a tender for the new service from 2024 specified that bidders should be able to deploy a helicopter to anywhere in Ireland or within 12 nautical miles of the coast in 45 minutes of being airborne and be capable of search and rescue in the Irish exclusive economic zone.

It also specified providing one Coast Guard search and surveillance aircraft - which could be fixed wing or drones - on 24-hour standby.

This would reduce the flying time and fuel expenditure of search and rescue helicopters

Questions are being asked within military circles about the need – and possible extra expense of – a dedicated fixed-wing aircraft under the control of the Irish Coast Guard, which could push the contract price up considerably.

The Air Corps is due to take delivery of two new Casa maritime patrol aircraft at a cost of €235 million.

Earlier this month, however, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney ruled out a role for the Air Corps in search and rescue.

The Air Corps pioneered helicopter rescue off this coast 40 years ago, with long-range missions undertaken by the British RAF and Royal Navy, but it was withdrawn from search and rescue in 2003 by then defence minister Michael Smith.

The Air Corps currently flies the emergency aeromedical service (EAS), based in Athlone, Co Westmeath, which recently marked a milestone by airlifting its 3000th patient.

The Irish Coast Guard flew 54 medical missions this year, with an additional two paediatric transfers to Britain. It also serves the islands and flew 91 medical evacuations from offshore communities.

Read more in The Sunday Times here

Published in Coastguard
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Last Sunday (4th October) Lough Neagh Rescue Lifeboat was tasked to two people stranded on Coney Island as their vessel had mechanical issues. Coney Island is owned by the National Trust and lies in the south-west corner of Lough Neagh about 1km from Maghery, a village on the Co Armagh shore.

Due to the adverse weather conditions, it was decided to take the persons off the island and bring them to Maghery. With the two people safely ashore and handed into the care of the Lough Neagh Coastguard team it was decided that the vessel could be brought to Maghery also, so the crew went back to the island, rigged a tow and brought the casualty vessel safely to the shore in Maghery.

Lough Neagh Rescue is a charitable 24-hour voluntary search and rescue service operating from three stations on the Lough - one at Ardboe in County Tyrone, one at Antrim in the North and the other from Kinnego Marina in the south near Lurgan, County Armagh.

Lough Neagh is the largest lake in the British Isles being about 32 km long and 14 km wide. It is mostly shallow with an average depth of 9 m. It is very exposed and in windy conditions can become extremely rough very quickly. It is used extensively by a wide variety of recreation and commercial craft with two sailing clubs, one at either end – Antrim Boat Club in the north and Lough Neagh Sailing Club at Kinnego in the south.

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The two Galway fishermen who rescued two paddleboarders in August have been honoured at a mayoral reception.

Mayor of Galway Mike Cubbard described Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan as “Claddagh royalty” when he presented them with a framed presentation scroll and a bronze model of a traditional Irish currach.

The presentation at a tightly controlled event in Salthill’s Leisureland was in honour of their achievements in saving the lives of Galway cousins Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn in August.

Mr Cubbard said that "the rescue highlights the fantastic community spirit which exists in Galway as hundreds of people across the city and county offered their help with the search operation".

The cousins who were also recognised for their bravery survived 15 hours at sea after they were swept some 17 nautical miles across the bay and towards the Atlantic in mid August.

The fishermen have already been awarded the Afloat.ie National Seamanship Trophy for their efforts.

The Olivers recorded another rescue when they pulled a man from the river Corrib last month.

Published in Galway Harbour

Independent.ie reports that a major search and rescue operation was launched last night (Wednesday 26 August) for a sea angler on the Kerry coast.

The man reportedly fell into the water while fishing at Kerry Head.

His angling partner entered the water after him to attempt a rescue, but got into difficulty and was recovered shortly after.

Elsewhere, the body of a fisherman who went missing from his boat of Teelin in Co Donegal just hours before was found late last night.

And a young man has spoken of his role in a ‘terrifying’ rescue of a 10-year-0d boy in difficulty in the water off Com Dhíneol in West Kerry yesterday afternoon.

Twenty-two-year-old Mícheál Keogh sprang into action with another man, Dan Sullivan, to assist the boy’s two uncles in retrieving the youngster amid the strong current.

“It’s a very dangerous place to swim,” Keogh told RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland. “None of them could swim so it was mad altogether but we were able to get them out.”

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue
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Volunteers from Arklow RNLI were called to the scene where two people were injured after a wave swept them from the upper deck of a pier in the Co Wicklow town yesterday (Sunday 22 December).

As TheJournal.ie reports, it’s understood that a large wave crashed against the harbour wall and washed two people from the top of the pier 15 feet to the lower deck.

Neither individual was washed into the sea but both were hospitalised for treatment. Community safety officer Mark Corcoran reminded the public to ‘stay back, stay high and stay dry’ when walking near the coast.

The incident came just hours after the lifeboat charity and the Irish Coast Guard issued their annual safety message for the Christmas and New Year period.

Published in Rescue
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A Galway coroner has paid tribute to a French-Canadian who tried to save the life of a Swiss woman when the caravan she was staying in at a Connemara campsite was swept into the sea during Storm Ali writes Lorna Siggins

Galway West coroner Dr Ciaran McLoughlin also paid tribute to the Irish Coast Guard, National Ambulance Service and Garda and to fellow doctor John Casey, who all risked their lives when attending the scene.

As Afloat reported previously, Swiss nurse Elvira Ferrari (58), a mother of three from Steinmaur, Zurich in Switzerland, tried to escape when winds flipped over the caravan and it was swept down a nine-metre (30 foot) drop into the sea on the morning of September 19th, 2018.

The storm-force 11 winds which hit the west coast were far stronger than speeds forecast, the inquest before Dr McLoughlin heard on Thursday (Oct 31).

The jury heard that Ms Ferrari had booked into the Clifden Eco Beach Camping and Caravan Park on September 16th, 2018, for three nights, and been offered the use of a mobile home as an alternative the previous night due to a bad forecast.

Ms Ferrari (58) had come to Ireland in August of that year to study English in Galway for three weeks and had planned to spend four days in Connemara.

The inquest heard that she had rented a bike in Clifden, which she was due to return on the day of the incident.

Witness Ms Sally Forth of Darlington, England, who was camping at the site, said that she saw a caravan blow over onto its side at about 7.45 am that morning, and it rolled onto a cliff edge and onto the beach. She saw the door open, and a figure trying to get out.

Mr Caleb-Amie Soltendieck, a French-Canadian who was staying at the eco-park with his girlfriend Shamie Gizuere Levesque, said he was alerted by Shamie who had seen the caravan blow over.

He ran out and spotted the caravan on the beach some nine metres (30 foot )below, and in the water.

Mr Soltendieck said he could see someone was trapped underneath.

He managed to get Ms Ferrari out from underneath, but she had severe injuries as her head had been crushed.

The eco-camp owner Kris Acton, who has run the caravan and campsite with his wife Tatjana since 2010, said the weather forecast for Wednesday, September 19th, 2018, had been for 70 mile per hour (MPH) winds.

He said an orange alert had been issued for that part of the coast.

Mr Acton had also checked a British weather forecast, which predicted 68 to 70 MPH winds.

Mr Acton said he had advised customers the night before to move, and had provided storm shields, and also advised those staying there with cars to use them as windbreaks.

He said his wife had spoken to Ms Ferrari on the Tuesday night and offered her the use of a mobile home, as the caravan would be very noisy in high winds.

At 7.45 am on the Wednesday morning, there was a knock on the door and a woman was shouting that a caravan had toppled over.

He ran down to the beach, saw a body, and was told by Mr Soltendieck that there was no pulse. The emergency services were called, and both he and his wife administered cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on instruction.

Mr Acton said that he believed the gusts were over 90 miles per hour and were of a “red alert” category, and winds of this ferocity would only occur in wintertime.

Ms Tatjana Acton said she had spoken to Ms Ferrari the night before, as there had been an issue with her credit card, and they spoke German to each other.

She said she had suggested Ms Ferrari transfer to a mobile home that night, but the Swiss guest seemed more concerned about an issue with her credit card.

Irish Coast Guard Cleggan officer Michael Murray, who reached the scene at 7.58 am, told Dr McLoughlin that the forecast was “well off” in his opinion, and was “near hurricane-force”. He said he had to move his jeep during the incident at one point as the winds were so severe.

Clifden GP Dr John Casey said in his statement that Ms Ferrari sustained catastrophic head injuries and he pronounced her dead at 8.17 am.

Garda Shane Nally of Clifden Garda station said he arrived with three colleagues, and ambulance staff, and Dr Casey was attending Ms Ferrari’s body, which was about three metres (10 ft) from the caravan on the beach.

Pathologist Dr Ramadan Shatwan gave the cause of death as a severe traumatic head injury.

Coroner Dr Ciaran McLoughlin paid tribute to Mr Soltendieck for trying to save Ms Ferrari, and to the emergency services for their bravery in such weather conditions.

He said a storm of that nature was most unusual for that time of year.

“This was indeed a tragic accident, in no way foreseen,” Dr McLoughlin said.

A jury returned a verdict of severe traumatic head injury.

The coroner, the Garda and the jury expressed sympathies to Ms Ferrari’s two sons, Romain and Nico, and daughter Mengia and ex-husband, Bruno. Ms Ferrari’s son Romain and his partner Alexandra were present at the inquest.

Published in Coastguard
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Howth Coast Guard has successfully deployed its new remote operated vehicle (ROV) for the first time in a missing person exercise last night (Wednesday 30 October).

After several weeks of training, the coastguard team set out to locate a potential area of interest on the shore, and the rescue ROV was launched to conduct a sub-surface search.

An adult weighted target was then successfully located using the ROV camera and it was brought to the surface by the ROV using its gripping arm.

Published in Rescue
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The relatives of a Fermanagh woman who was one of 18 people rescued by two Donegal fishermen have expressed delight that the men are to receive national bravery awards – all of 63 years after the event writes Lorna Siggins

James and Michael “Mickey Red” Gallagher, aged 85 and 80 respectively, will be conferred with State bravery awards today at Farmleigh House, Dublin, and their late father, Michael, will be given posthumous recognition for his role.

The late Jean Morrell, née Mavitty, from Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, was one of the 18 saved by the Gallagher brothers, after the punt she was a passenger in sank off Roaninish skerries, some five km off Portnoo, Co Donegal.

Jean Mavitty was aged 15 at the time, and had to be restrained by the Gallaghers from trying to jump in again to save her dad after she had been pulled from the Atlantic.

The body of her father, Desmond Mavitty (49), was found three weeks later on Roaninish. He was one of three fatalities.

A young boy, Christopher Chambers, was fatally injured in the propeller of a nearby yacht which had tried to help, while a family friend of the Mavittys, George Warren (55), was taken from the water by the fishermen. In spite of attempts to resuscitate him, he did not survive.

The fishermen, who had set out from Rutland island to fish for lobsters in their father’s half decker, Irine, took the 15 rescued from the water after the punt sinking back into Portnoo.

They also secured the body of Christopher Chambers, and towed in the yacht with three people on board to safety.

There were no VHF radios at the time to contact the RNLI Arranmore lifeboat, and limited communication meant that there were no Gardai at the pier. The fishermen were not notified of the inquest into the three fatalities, which took place that night.

When they got home to Rutland island, which lies between Burtonport and Arranmore, they remember their mother was beside herself with worry, as she had by then heard a report of a sinking and thought her husband and sons had been lost.

Jean Mavitty’s son, Robert, lives in Enniskillen, and said his late mother often talked about the incident, but did not know who to thank. He said she made sure to teach her two children to swim in the sea when they returned on holidays to Portnoo.

“All she remembered at that time was seeing a boathook - none of them had lifejackets when they were pulled out,”Mr Morrell said.

“ My mum had passed her lifesaving awards just a couple of months before, and that was what really upset her about losing her father,,”Mr Morrell said.

Mr Morrell is due to travel to Dublin today (fri) with his sister, Jenny, to congratulate the Gallaghers.

The siblings only learned about the Gallaghers’ involvement two months ago, and visited them recently at their home in Burtonport.

“Together , we feel sure that mum would be proud to acknowledge her personal heroes,” they said. “Without those men, we would not be here...”

The Gallaghers are among 19 recipients of State awards for 12 instances of bravery, and one posthumous award will be conferred on their father, Michael.

The honours will be awarded at Farmleigh House, Dublin, today (oct 18) by Comhairle na Míre Gaile – the Deeds of Bravery Council.

It was established in 1947 to “provide for suitable recognition by the State of deeds of bravery”, and is chaired by the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil.

Eight serving and one retired Garda are also recipients this year, and the full list is as follows:

Adrian Brennan, Kilkenny; retired Garda Desmond Brennan, Dublin; Garda Pauric Deery, Sligo.; Basil Harte , Sligo; James Hennessy, Cork; Olive Murphy, Cork; Aonghus O’Briain, Dublin; Michael Hempenstall, Dublin; Garda Donal Tully, Dublin; Garda David Currivan, Dublin; Garda Cathal McGeoghan, Dublin; James Gallagher (Snr), Donegal; Mickey ‘Red Michael’ Gallagher , Donegal; Michael Gallagher (Snr),Donegal (posthumous award); Garda Seán Breheny, Dublin; Gary Kennedy, Mayo; Garda Darren Blackwell, Dublin; Sergeant Gavin Coleman, Dublin; Garda M.J. Carroll, Dublin; Garda Jason Walsh, Dublin.

Published in Rescue
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Two Donegal brothers are to receive national bravery awards next week for their rescue of 18 people from two vessels which got into difficulty off Portnoo - all of 63 years ago writes Lorna Siggins.

Retired fishermen James and Michael Gallagher of Burtonport, Co Donegal, were on their father’s half decker, Irine and had set out to check lobster pots when a punt nearby with 15 people on board took a wave across the bow and was swamped.

“It’s as clear in my mind as if it happened yesterday,” James says, recalling the events of August 22nd, 1956 in today’s Irish Independent here

All 15 on the punt ended up in the water with no lifejackets. Among those rescued was Jean Mavitty, then 15 years old, but her father Desmond Mavitty (49) was one of three who drowned, along with George Warren (55) and Christopher Chambers (7). The young boy was fatally injured by the propellor of a nearby yacht.

Those taken ashore by the fishermen included Bruce and Lorna Warren (aged 14 and 17), Robin Chambers (11), David Logan (11), Joe Morton (19), Pat Morton (17), Nevin Kerr (20), Aiden Campbell (15) and Alan Cooper (15). The party had set out to look at the wreck of a coaster, Greenhaven, which had run up on Roaninish island some months before.

Jean Mavitty’s son, Robert Morrell, says his late mother often wondered who she could thank, as she had no memory of who had carried out the rescue. The inquest into the three fatalities was held immediately after the incident, and the fishermen were not present.

The national bravery awards, conferred this year at Farmleigh House, Dublin, on October 18th, are conferred by the Dáil ceann comhairle on people from all walks of life and all sections of society who have “ carried out a deed of bravery with an effort to save human life involving personal risk".

The Gallagher brothers, now aged 80 and 85, will be joined by Jim Gallagher, son of James and nephew of Michael, who has also spent a life at sea and nominated them for the award.

For more see Irish Independent here

Published in Rescue
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