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Monday 16 September 2019

Irish navy hero resuscitated six-month-old baby girl twice during Mediterranean rescue

A refugee gestures his thanks as he is rescued by the crew of the LÉ Niamh
A refugee gestures his thanks as he is rescued by the crew of the LÉ Niamh

Chai Brady

A hero from Ireland’s navy rescued and resuscitated a six-month-old baby girl twice in front of her family while on a mission in the Mediterranean.

Members of Ireland’s Defence Forces were presented with an award by the Taoiseach on Monday.

LS Alex Casey (33) from Cobh, Cork described it as his "proudest moment" when he rescued a baby girl during Operation Pontus - which aims to rescue migrants fleeing North Africa.

He was on the second ship deployed by Ireland, LÉ Niamh, and spent three months on the mission in 2015.

The LÉ Niamh has rescued hundreds of migrants
The LÉ Niamh has rescued hundreds of migrants

He told that he resuscitated the child twice.

“I passed her back to her father so I could aid the rest of my boat’s crew on recovering bodies. The child went unresponsive again, so I took her off the father and resuscitated her a second time.

“The family were there, they were just screaming that their child wasn’t breathing. It was all just heat of the moment.” He said he felt an urge to act because his partner was heavily pregnant at the time.

So far 15,000 people have been recovered from the sea as part of Operation Pontus.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “Since the foundation of this state the Defence Forces have been a lynch pin of our democracy and a manifestation of our values. The work of the men and women of Óglaigh na hÉireann have brought great honour to Ireland, and has enhanced our reputation and our influence at international events and affairs over very many years.”

European Movement Ireland (EMI) gave the Defence Forces the 2016 European of the Year award for their international peacekeeping and humanitarian work overseas.

Twenty serving members from various branches of the Defence Forces attended the event.

Lt Col Mark Hearns from Dalkey in Dublin was deployed for six months on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) mission in the Middle East, where he was the Irish contingent commander.

The purpose of the mission is to supervise the end of conflict between Israeli and Syrian forces and began in 1974. He described it as a "very tense and volatile environment" but praised his family for their support.

“I’m married with a daughter. While I was away I missed my daughter’s 18th birthday and her graduation from school, and I missed her debs. But what we do we couldn’t possibly do without the support of our families. We had a marvellous reception then when we came back to Dublin airport.”

EMI have campaigned since 1954 for Ireland to be a part of the EU and have encouraged Irish people to become more involved.

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