Coastguard saved 405 people and pays tribute to tragic volunteer

In a year in which an Irish Coast Guard volunteer died in the course of duty, the service says it has rescued or assisted 405 people in 2016.

Doolin unit member Catriona Lucas was the first volunteer member of the coastguard to lose her life on operational service, having been involved in a search off Clare in September.

Acting coastguard director Eugene Clonan, in an end-of-year report issued yesterday, commended all the staff and volunteers who contributed to the many missions undertaken in 2016.

“Sadly, at this time, we remember the family of Caitríona Lucas and recall her as a person who so embodied the volunteer ethos,” he said.

Coastguard saved 405 people and pays tribute to tragic volunteer

The coastguard, which coordinated 2,500 incidents throughout the year, focused on the importance of mariners using personal locator beacons and electronic position-indicating radio beacons. The devices had directly saved the lives of five mariners this year.

They included a lone yachtsman plucked from the sea by a helicopter after his vessel overturned 20 miles south of Wexford, along with three fishermen located and rescued after their vessel sunk.

In another incident, a single-crewed yacht that became dismasted off the south-west coast was found and towed into Castletownbere, Co Cork.

Coastguard units and helicopters also assisted with the recovery of 45 bodies as a result of drowning and other missing-person searches.

Through its three Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centres based in Valentia, Malin, and at the Dublin headquarters, a total of 405 people were rescued or assisted.

The numbers are categorised as “lives saved” on the basis the intervention precluded loss of life or severe risk of loss of life.

The report also noted an increase in kayaking- and surfing-related incidents, with a total of 45 individual incidents requiring a response being recorded.

Countrywide, a total of 43 coastguard volunteer units responded to 1,042 incidents. The unit’s search and rescue boat, and cliff-rescue services, were utilised, in addition to local community support during inclement weather or emergencies.

As part of the service, coastguard helicopters conducted 61 patient transfers from offshore islands this year.

Separately, they transferred nine patients to the UK for emergency procedures, mainly relating to organ transplant, and assisted the HSE/National Ambulance Service on 258 occasions.

Mr Clonan also thanked the Naval Service, Air Corps, RNLI, Community Rescue Boats, gardaí, Mountain Rescue teams, the National Ambulance Service, Fire Service, Irish Underwater Council, and other statutory and voluntary services which the coastguard worked with this year.

“I want to particularly recognise the many volunteers who responded with such professionalism, whether that be in the coastguard, RNLI, Community Rescue Boats, or Mountain Rescue teams,” he said.


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