RNLI forced to stand down lifeboat crew as member tests positive

RNLI forced to stand down lifeboat crew as member tests positive

The RNLI has had to temporarily stand down one of its crews after a volunteer lifeboat crew member tested positive for Covid-19.

The RNLI has had to temporarily stand down one of its crews after a volunteer lifeboat crew member tested positive for Covid-19.

In what may be one of the first cases of a confirmed case of the coronavirus on any of the islands, the positive case was confirmed at the end of last week on Arranmore Island off the coast of Co Donegal.

The second most populated island in the country, Arainn Mhor is also the base for the RNLI lifeboat and station. The RNLI confirmed that it was the first time any of its crews have been impacted in this way since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The RNLI have temporarily taken a lifeboat station off service due to a positive case of Covid-19 detected in a volunteer lifeboat crew member," a spokesperson said.

"Arranmore Island RNLI, off the coast of Donegal, undertook a lifeboat exercise earlier in the week. 

"All RNLI Standard operating procedures for Covid-19 were adhered to throughout the exercise which involved no other vessels.

"Unfortunately, one individual from the eight people present has since tested positive for Covid-19 and the lifeboat has now been taken off service. A deep clean of the lifeboat, crew kit and station has been undertaken. All crewmembers with contact to the volunteer have been asked to self-isolate and the crew will be tested for Covid-19.

"Arranmore Island RNLI is one of 46 RNLI lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland. 

"The Coast Guard have been informed, as have the two flanking RNLI lifeboat stations. Search and Rescue cover will be undertaken by other Search and Rescue assets in the area including RNLI lifeboat stations, the Irish Coast Guard and other declared assets."

The RNLI spokesperson added: "Our priority is always for the safety of our lifeboat crew and we will not put them or the public at risk. Arranmore Island RNLI will resume service once it is safe to do so."

 

The positive test on the island, home to almost 500 people, comes after a very busy summer in which tourist and visitor numbers soared.

In a Facebook post the local Arranmore RNLI crew said that the island-based ambulance service was also off-call, with cover provided by the mainland-based National Ambulance Service as required.

"Our thoughts are with our crew member and we wish him a speedy recovery," the post said.

"We would urge you all to continue to follow Government guidelines surrounding Covid-19, and we assure you that we will be back on service as soon as possible."

The Arranmore RNLI has been involved in a huge number of rescues, and as recently as last month rescued two people, one of whom was in the water, in Portnoo.

The positive test has also resulted in the local fire crew, also volunteers, having to stand down for a time, while a number of local businesses have also made it known that they will close for a number of days in the interests of public safety.

A spokesperson for Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann, the Irish Islands Federation, urged everyone on the islands to strictly adhere to public health guidelines and said it was essential that testing facilities be provided on the islands if required, rather than islanders having to travel to test centres on the mainland.

The island is also in the Donegal Gaeltacht and while usual Irish language activities were suspended because of the outbreak, it has proved popular over many decades with visiting students, particularly from Dublin.

The island has been the centre of a campaign by mobile provider Three and is aiming to be one of the most connected islands in the world.

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