Monday 16 December 2019

Summer days have Coast Guard on alert

Wicklow RNLI assists four people in difficulty at Silver Strand beach
Wicklow RNLI assists four people in difficulty at Silver Strand beach
Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

A MASSIVE increase in life-saving mercy missions around our coasts is being blamed on last summer’s heatwave and stay-at-home holidaymakers.

The Irish Coast Guard were involved in a record-breaking 2,627 incidents last year.

The new figures emerged in the same week two experienced English divers died after getting into difficulty while diving off Castlehaven where they were exploring a sunken submarine

The new figures show a huge increase in helicopter evacuations of people struck by stroke or heart attack.

The result was the busiest year ever for the coastal emergency services and coast guard helicopters. But already this year, because of the fine settled weather in the last two months, there has been a further rise — up 9pc so far on last year’s figures for the same period. So far there have been 1,222 incidents in 2014.

As more and more people enjoy sports on the water, the number of people saved or assisted last year rose to 5,685 up from 2,776 the previous year. There was also a rise in the number of fishing vessels seeking help from 179 in 2012 to 215 last year.

But this has been welcomed by the Department of Transport who say it is indicative of greater willingness of our fishing community to seek assistance when they get into trouble.

Another feature of the last number of years is the growing assistance given by the helicopter service to garda in missing person searches in coastal and remote areas.

Missing persons missions have also risen sharply in the first six months of this year. So far there have been 118 missions representing a 100pc rise compared with last year.

So far in 2014 there has also been 35 missions involving merchant vessels which is being blamed on the series of severe winter storms at the start of the year.

The growing popularity of kayaking and canoeing has also led to a rise in the number of incidents, up 136pc on the previous year, involving these small pleasure craft.

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