‘Busy year’ for air ambulance as 103 missions completed

Night vision goggles used for 23 patient transfers; Navy boarded 1,000 vessels in 2013

Lt Cdr Marie Gleeson and captain Lt Cdr Erika Downing at the Navy’s first handover of command from one female captain to another on the LE Aoife in July. Photograph: Irish Defence Forces/Flickr

Lt Cdr Marie Gleeson and captain Lt Cdr Erika Downing at the Navy’s first handover of command from one female captain to another on the LE Aoife in July. Photograph: Irish Defence Forces/Flickr

Tue, Dec 31, 2013, 13:12

The Defence Forces described 2013 as a “busy year” for the Air Corps’ air ambulance, with over 100 missions undertaken.

End-of-year figures released by the Defences Forces today show the air ambulance service completed 103 missions this year, including national and international patient transfers.

Among these were a time-critical transfer of a patient in the early hour of St Stephen’s Day to London for specialist treatment, the Defence Forces said in a statement.

Night vision goggles were used by Air Corps helicopter crews to complete 23 night time transfers of patients in the past year. Four of these took place during the Halloween bank holiday weekend.

A pilot project to support the HSE’s National Ambulance Service in providing aeromedical support to the West saw a large number of call-outs. The emergency aeromedical service answered 527 call-outs in the past year, including one on Christmas day. The service, which is based in Athlone, sees the Air Corps provide the helicopter and flying personnel while the National Ambulance Service provides medical personnel.

The detention of the world’s largest fishing vessel, a ship from The Netherlands, was among 16 made for alleged breaches of fishing law by the Naval service this year.

The Navy boarded almost 1,000 vessels in the past year, the figures show. It also warned 25 fishing vessels from Ireland, United Kingdom, Spain, France and Denmark over infringements of regulations.

The Navy’s specialist diving team was involved in 51 operations in the past year, the figures show. Among these were 14 search and rescue operations, many of which lasted several days.

“The remains of three individuals have been recovered in the process of these searches this year and returned to their loved ones,” the Defence Forces said.

The rescue of a Norwegian couple stranded on their yacht 220km off the south west coast by the LE Aoife was among the notable events in which the Navy was involved.

The Navy also saw the first handover of command from one female captain to another on the LE Aoife in July.

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