The Irish Coast Guard assisted more than 3,300 people over the course of last year, during which time it says 335 missions were classed as ‘lives saved’ missions, on the basis that intervention from the team precluded loss of life or severe risk of loss of life. Coast Guard helicopters operating out of bases in Sligo, Shannon, Waterford and Dublin conducted a total of 750 missions in 2017 saving 175 people and assisting 316. The Coast Guard helicopter service, provided under contract by CHC Ireland, also provides aeromedical support to HSE, conducting 15O such missions in 2017. As part of this service, Coast Guard helicopters transferred five paediatric patients to the UK for emergency procedures relating to organ transplant.
The review of 2017’s missions concluded: “Technology continues to pay an important role in safety at sea through the use of PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons) and EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons). One particular incident, resulting in the rescue of two transatlantic rowers some 180 miles off the SW coast in July, was made possible by the use of such technology. Unfortunately, a high proportion of false EPIRB alarms relate to carelessness in disposing of old equipment, including when older vessels change hands or are scrapped.”
Coast Guard personnel assisted with the recovery of 65 bodies of people who had drowned and completed many other missing person searches, which signified a 30-per-cent increase on the same mission profiles from 2016. Over 2,500 incidents were co-ordinated through the three Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centres, which are based in Valentia, Malin and Dublin, which was a slight decrease from 2016. The review of last year’s missions allowed the Coast Guard to note a slight decrease in kayaking accidents to which the units responded, down to 37 from 45 in 2016.