Friday 18 January 2019

Irish Coast Guard saves over 400 lives in 2018

Irish Coast Guard helicopter. Stock picture
Irish Coast Guard helicopter. Stock picture
Conor McCrave

Conor McCrave

The Irish Coast Guard saved more than 400 lives this year - an increase of almost a fifth on the 340 lives saved in 2017.

In an annual review the Coast Guard, which has three rescue coordination centres based in Dublin, Kerry and Donegal, reported an increase in the number of people - classed as 'Lives Saved' - who would have died or were at serious risk of loss of life if it had not provided assistance.

In total the three centres managed some 2,650 incidents this year, up from the 2,503 incidents recorded in the previous year.

The Coast Guard is tasked with responding to emergency incidents on Irish waters but also provides assistance on land and to organisations including the HSE and An Garda Síochana.

With a fleet of helicopters based in Dublin, Shannon, Waterford and Sligo the Coast Guard dispatched the aircrafts on over 670 missions this year.

Some 119 of those dispatches were sent on behalf of the HSE which calls on the Coast Guard for medical transfers while they also provide round the clock evacuation assistance to offshore islands.

The past 12 months has seen the number of call outs from the islands to the mainland for medical assistance reach 102, an increase of more than a half on the previous years figure of 67.

A nationwide network of volunteer Coast Guard units with around 1,000 members provided assistance in boat rescues, cliff rescues and shoreline searches, as well as helping communities during extreme weather events.

Coast Guard director Chris Reynolds described the members of the vital emergency service as the ‘eyes and ears’ who liaise with the three operation centres.

“In addition to the three core services that they provide they are an integral part of community resilience and continually act as the Eyes and Ears of our RCCs in assessing and responding to any coastal emergency,” he said.

In the past 12 months, the Dublin Coast Guard centre which receives emergency satellite transmissions from boats and aircrafts, received 137 electronic transmissions although many proved to be false alarms.

Along with Irish Water Safety, the RNLI and the Irish Sailing Association, the Coast Guard said it would be taking measures to promote water safety in 2019 including a relaunch of the Safety on the Water website which provides tips and guidelines on how to stay safe on Irish waters.

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