The decision to call in the services of a coastguard helicopter with thermal imaging equipment paid off during a search for an 80-year-old man in North Cork.
Gardaí do not know how long the man had been missing before the helicopter discovered him in a water-filled ditch.
According to gardaí, he was last seen by a relative at his home at 5pm on Saturday. The following day, at about 7pm, gardaí were notified that the man was not at home at Corbally, Kanturk, about a mile from the village of Kilbrin.
Gardaí from Kanturk started a search of the area and were joined by a unit of the North Cork Civil Defence and members of the Mallow Search and Rescue Unit.
As darkness fell, Supt Pat McCarthy, who was leading the operation, became so concerned for the elderly man’s welfare that he sought the assistance of a coastguard helicopter.
Supt McCarthy contacted the coastguard station at Valentia, which in turn tasked the Shannon-based coastguard helicopter, Rescue 115, to fly to the scene.
“The helicopter came to the scene very quickly and within minutes had located the man,” said the superintendent.
He was found shortly before 1am yesterday in dense undergrowth in a ditch full of water. He was said to be suffering from hypothermia.
Members of the Mallow Search and Rescue Unit removed the man and administered first aid. The 80-year-old was then taken to Limerick Regional Hospital by the helicopter.
Supt McCarthy said it was as yet unclear how long the man had been missing and gardaí were hoping to ascertain this when he is well enough to speak to them.
“Even though we had a lot of manpower out on the ground looking for him, we wouldn’t have found him as quickly without the help of the helicopter’s thermal imaging equipment.”
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