Coastguard saves 161 lives this year

The Irish Coast Guard saved 161 lives during the past year.

Responding to almost 2,000 incidents, this year was the busiest since the search and rescue service was formed in 1822.

Crews recovered 88 bodies during 2012 — also the highest number on record.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar paid tribute to staff members and volunteers ofboth the coastguard and the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) for their work.

“These are essential services and much of the cost is met by volunteers,” said Mr Varadkar.

“But I particularly want to pay tribute to the huge number of volunteers who save lives every week of the year.

“Without these volunteers, it simply wouldn’t be possible to provide the same level of emergency response.”

The 1,963 call-outs the coastguard dealt with during the year represented an8% increase on 2011.

There are 900 volunteers in the coastguard, 2,000 in the RNLI, 300 community rescue boats, and 500 mountain and cave rescue volunteers. They provide a 24-hour on-call service to respond to emergencies at sea, on cliffs, and coasts.

Mr Varadkar vowed that funding would continue for the rescue services and said there would be a major water safety initiative launched in the new year. This will include a publicity campaign, new safety signs at slipways and piers, and a safety on the water website.

The Irish Coast Guard also revealed there was an “unacceptably high” number of hoax calls during the year, at 325.


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