THE NEW Coast Guard Rescue 117 helicopter was in action yesterday following an alert that the Rosslare Harbour-based Celtic Horizon cruise ferry with 250 people on board had lost all engine power on route to France.
However, the crew subsequently managed to restart the engines and the vessel proceeded on its way.
The Waterford-based helicopter, a Sikorsky S92, replaces the old workhorse, the Sikorsky S61, which became a familiar sight in Wexford skies over the past few years. It has longer range, is faster and has large capacity than the machine it replaces.
The new Sikorsky S92 will have a huge operational advantage for the Coast Guard from the perspective of the maritime community with a huge improvement in the range and capability which will also benefit communities countrywide both inland and coastal.
The Coast Guard has surveyed more than 50 landing sites countrywide but have focused mainly on the needs in areas where road transport may not benefit the patient if urgent transport is required, especially in terms of transferring people to a centre of excellence within the 90-minute window, which is the requirement in the majority of cases when a casualty needs immediate medical attention at a nominated medical centre as directed by HSE staff.
The new helicopter's first call out since becoming operational was a transfer to Tallaght Hospital on Sunday.