Irish Coast Guard stayed busy with rescues, other responses in 2020

AvatarBy Vertical Mag | January 3, 2021

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 19 seconds.

In an end-of-year commentary, the Irish Coast Guard has highlighted that despite the impact of Covid-19, 2020 proved to be a relatively busy year.

Irish Coast Guard helicopter
Irish Coast Guard helicopter services are provided under contract by CHC Helicopters Ireland. Lukasz Gancarz Photo

Overall, the Coast Guard coordinated 2,643 incidents, compared to 2,490 incidents in 2019. Activity over February, March and April was the lowest recorded for each of those months over recent years but noticeably picked up in May, with August and September proving to be exceptionally busy.

A total of 464 incidents were recorded in August, compared to 369 for August 2019. Meanwhile, 307 incidents were recorded in September, with a corresponding figure of 239 in 2019.

Irish Coast Guard director Eugene Clonan said that the key challenge this year was to ensure the 24/7 delivery of Coast Guard search-and-rescue (SAR) services as coordinated by the Rescue Coordination Centres in Malin Valentia and Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin, with responses delivered primarily by Coast Guard’s own volunteer sector, its contracted helicopter service, Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Inshore Rescue services.

The Coast Guard attaches particular attention to what it categorizes as “lives saved”: assistance that prevented loss of life, severe risk to life, or protracted hospitalization. In 2020, the Coast Guard recorded that 391 individuals were categorized as lives saved.

Irish Coast Guard helicopter services, provided under contract by CHC Helicopters Ireland, operate day and night services using Sikorsky S-92 helicopters out of bases at Sligo, Shannon, Dublin and Waterford. In 2020, CHC flew a total of 781 missions. In addition to SAR services, these missions include 24/7 emergency medical support to the island communities. Coast Guard also provides helicopter emergency medical services support and inter-hospital transfer services to Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE), including emergency pediatric transfers to the U.K.

MRCC Dublin serves as the national single point of contact for processing of COSPAS-SARSAT 406 MHz satellite beacon alerts generated by Irish-registered beacons worldwide, including EPIRBs (emergency position indicating radio beacons), PLBs (personal locator beacons) and ELTs (emergency locator transmitters), including any beacon alerts from foreign flagged vessels or aircraft operating within the Irish Search-and-Rescue Region. During the year, a total of 192 satellite beacon alerts were processed, many of which were the result of false alerts due to the mishandling or incorrect disposal of beacons.

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