Lost crew of Rescue 116 stand as a symbol of selfless courage
The tragedy of last week is a sober reminder of the risks which emergency rescue crews take every day, writes Jim Cusack
More lives will be lost at sea this year but hundreds will survive due to the selflessness and professionalism of Irish rescue crews.
Most of those who respond in the night in all weathers to the pager or mobile phone summons are volunteers for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution or the Coast Guard. They leave partners to sleep on uneasily, maybe kiss sleeping infants and set off into darkness and the unknown. On their journeys to lifeboat stations, they might learn if it is an easy or a hard job. If it's 'easy' they might send a text to an anxious loved one to reassure them.
On a good night, the weather is fine and all goes well. An RNLI crew will often arrive at a scene and simply act as back-up as one of the Sikorsky Coast Guard rescue crews airlift a stricken sailor off a trawler, cargo ship or, as the summer approaches, more often than not a leisure craft.