For the first time since it was set up in 1991, the Coast Guard’s helicopter service has completed 1,000 missions in a single year.
The figure was reached on St Stephen’s night after two helicopter missions were carried out by the Coast Guard’s Rescue 115 and Rescue 118 aircraft.
Shannon Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 brought a pregnant young woman from Inis Mór to Galway University Hospital while the Sligo Coast Guard helicopter attempted to assist a young boy with leg injuries who was inaccessible to the ambulance service because of flooding.
Coast Guard national manager for search and rescue services Gerard O’Flynn said the crews completed 1,000 missions on December 27th; surpassing last year’s total of 914.
Shannon helicopter Rescue 115 has completed 330 missions, Dublin Rescue 116 has completed 148 missions, Waterford Rescue 117 has completed 179 missions and Sligo Rescue 118 has completed 343 missions.
Mr O’Flynn said: “Our helicopter search and rescue crews are highly trained and dedicated to serve the people in their communities. Their professionalism and dedication, as well as high aircraft availability, allows our crews to return people home safely from an even greater number of dangerous situations.”
Director of the Irish Coast Guard Chris Reynolds said he thanked the helicopter crews for their professionalism and dedication.
“High aircraft availability is one of the main reasons behind the high number of missions. This year we achieved in excess of 96 per cent 24/7 operational availability at 15 minutes’ notice (0730 to 2130) and 45 minutes’ notice thereafter at all of our four bases, which is an exceptional achievement,” he said.
"The Coast Guard operates one of the world's most sophisticated search and rescue services in the world. We are very proud of the service that is delivered by a very special team of men and women dedicated to saving life anywhere in Ireland and in all weathers."
The new helicopter fleet is equipped with enhanced mission equipment, including forward-looking infrared low-light cameras, “night sun” searchlights, ambulance level paramedic care facilities and satellite communications systems.