Wednesday, 16th May 2012
10 years of Irish Coast Guard Search & Rescue operations marked at Waterford Airport
This month's 10th anniversary of the arrival of Irish Coast Guard search and rescue helicopter base at Waterford Airport was marked last Thursday.
The Irish Coast Guard service provided by CHC Ireland commenced in May 2002 and replaced the previous Irish Air Corps service covering a large part of the south and east of the country. CHC Helicopter is the world's largest commercial helicopter company and, in addition to Ireland, their search and rescue division operates in Brazil, Norway, Kazakhstan, the UK and Australia. CHC also recently opened a new aircraft leasing business based in Dublin.
For the past decade the Waterford Coast Guard base has provided search & rescue service on a 24/7 basis. During this time they have responded to over a thousand emergency taskings in addition to routine work with the HSE, Garda Siochana, Defence Forces and Local Authorities and many other agencies, with the Waterford crew always playing a central role in search and rescue operations following many high-profile incidents involving fishing vessels and leisure craft along the southern and eastern coastline, and indeed have become an integral part of the community in the southeast.
The Coastguard's work from Waterford was showcased to a wider national audience in 2010 through the RTÉ television series 'Rescue 117' which showed the local team conducting 18 separate rescue missions while the cameras rolled.
As the 10 year milestone at Waterford was marked, Chris Reynolds, Director, Irish Coast Guard, said: "Our primary purpose is to reduce the loss of life and to provide an effective emergency response service. No two crisis situations are the same and the helicopter crew based at Waterford Airport and their counterparts at other locations around the country do very courageous work in often difficult flying conditions. I commend them for their ongoing efforts to make us safer on land and water."
"As we mark 10 years partnering with Irish Coast Guard at Waterford Airport, we also look to the future and the rollout of faster aircraft at this and other bases. We will be replacing the S61 helicopter currently based at Waterford with a newer Sikorsky S92 custom-fitted for search and rescue operations,"said Mark Kelly, Managing Director, CHC Ireland "For our team who operate these services and for those they serve in emergencies, it is vital that we continue to invest in industry-leading technology. The new helicopter fleet will provide for even faster treatment of casualties during that all important initial period after someone is located in a search operation."
Graham Doyle, CEO, Waterford Airport, added: "The search and rescue service provided by the Irish Coast Guard through CHC Ireland is an important part of our operations and something that I know the entire region values very deeply. The well-trained and highly experienced crew led by Captain Dara Fitzpatrick do an incredible job and all of us have seen the major part they have played over the last 10 years. The Waterford Airport team is very proud to support the crews based at Waterford and we are delighted to continue our close working relationship with the Irish Coast Guard and CHC Ireland."
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