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Thursday 27 July 2017

Coastguard saved more than 400 lives in 2016

Caitriona Lucas (41) who died tragically in a rescue mission in Kilkee
Caitriona Lucas (41) who died tragically in a rescue mission in Kilkee
Caitriona Lucas and Inset her husband Bernard
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The coast guard saved 405 lives in 2016, and responded to more than 3,000 incidents.

This year brave volunteer Caitríona Lucas became the first coast guard member to lose her life in the line of duty.

Ms Lucas, an active member of the Doolin coast guard in Co Clare, was part of a search and rescue operation when she lost her life in September.

Her tragic death “cast a dark shadow over all Coast Guard activities” according to the Irish Coast Guard, as the service released details of all of rescue missions and operations carried out this year.

Irish coast guard members attended some 2,500 incidents through the coast guard’s three Marine Rescue Coordination Centres based in Valentia, Malin and its Dublin HQ. 

Volunteers nationwide also responded to 1,042 incidents.

“A total of 405 people who were rescued or assisted were categorised as ‘lives saved’ on the basis that the intervention precluded loss of life or severe risk of loss of life” according to the group.

 The organistaion said that technology including  ‘Personal Locator Beacons’ (PLBs) and ‘Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacons’ (EPIRBs) were responsible for directly saving the lives of five people.

One of these incidents related to a Coast Guard helicopter rescue of a lone yachtsman, whose yacht had overturned, 20 miles south of Co Wexford.

A second related to the location and recovery of three fishermen whose vessel had sunk.

The third incident concerned the location of a single crewed yacht which had become dis-masted off the Coast and was subsequently towed to Castletownbere, Co Cork.

Air support also attended a number of medical incidents, including 258 occasions where the coast guard assisted the HSE or the National Ambulance service.

The service also carried out 61 patient transfers from offshore islands and transferred nine patients to UK for emergency procedures mainly relating to organ transplant.

In relation to drowning, the Coast Guard said men remained the most likely victims, with preliminary reports showing that well over half of people needing rescue were not wearing lifejackets.

Eugene Clonan, acting Coast Guard director, thanked all staff and volunteers involved in missions during 2016.

"Sadly, at this time we remember the family of Caitriona Lucas and recall Caitriona as a person who so embodied the volunteer ethos," he added.

The coast guard has appealed to the public to be water safety aware and will continue to work with schools to encourage people to use life jackets.

Next year will see the launch of a safety message based on the importance of retaining the ability to stay afloat coupled with a capacity to raise the alarm utilising the theme ‘Stay Afloat – Stay in Contact’ according to the organisation.

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