Praise as air crews complete 1,000th mission
Irish Coast Guard helicopter crews have reached a new milestone in their operations, passing 1,000 in a year for the first time.
Crews based in Shannon and Sligo took the total number of completed missions past the new milestone at the weekend.
It is the highest number of missions in a single year since the service began in 1991.
The latest operations saw the Shannon Coast Guard 115 helicopter take a pregnant woman from Inis Mór on the Aran Islands to hospital in Galway while the Sligo Rescue 118 aircraft was tasked with assisting a boy with leg injuries who could not be reached by ambulance due to flooding. In the latter mission, despite multiple attempts, the helicopter was unable to land due to fog and the boy was eventually transported by road.
The Coast Guard's national manager for search and rescue (SAR) services Gerard O'Flynn said the Sligo helicopter was the busiest of the year carrying out 343 missions, followed closely by Shannon which completed 330 missions.
He said Dublin Rescue 116 completed 148 missions and Waterford Rescue 117 had 179 missions.
"The west coast helicopters in particular have been busy this year in assisting the National Ambulance Service in transporting critically ill or injured patients from rural areas to the major trauma centres at Cork and Galway University Hospitals," said Mr O'Flynn.
He said between 10pc and 15pc of all missions involved emergency medical care.
"Our helicopter SAR crews are highly trained and dedicated to serving the people in their communities. Their professionalism and dedication, as well as high aircraft availability, allows our crews to return people home safely from an even greater number of dangerous situations," he added.
Director of the Irish Coast Guard Chris Reynolds praised the crews saying 96pc of missions were under way within 15 minutes of receiving a call-out.
"I want to thank all the Coast Guard crews at Shannon, Dublin, Waterford and Sligo for their fantastic work throughout the year, moving people from places of danger to places of safety, day and night, winter and summer. High aircraft availability is one of the main reasons behind the high number of missions," he said.
"The Coast Guard operates one of the world's most sophisticated SAR services. We are very proud of the service that is delivered by a very special team of men and women."