Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar TD today congratulated the Irish Coast Guard as they mark the 10th anniversary of the Irish Coast Guard search and rescue helicopter base at Waterford Airport (Thursday, May 10).
Speaking today, the Minister said: â€œFor the past decade the helicopter team at the Waterford Coast Guard base has provided vital search & rescue services on a 24/7 basis, responding to over 1,000 taskings and saving many lives in the process.Â During that time, the Waterford crew have been involved in many significant search and rescue incidents involving fishing vessels and leisure craft, among others. They have played a central role in search and rescue operations along the southern and eastern coastline, and in doing so have become an integral part of the community in the southeast, a community which is rightly very proud of them.â€
The Coast Guardâ€™s helicopter team Waterford was showcased to a wider national audience in 2010 through the RTÃ‰ television series â€˜Rescue 117â€™. This series gave the public a glimpse of how the Coast Guard helicopter crews operate and respond, who they are and what they do.Â During filming of the RTE services, the Waterford helicopter team conducted 18 separate rescue missions on camera.
2011 was one of the busiest years for the Irish Coast Guard since its foundation. Units located around the country and helicopter teams responded to nearly 2,000 incidents last year, resulting in 163 lives being saved and over 3,300 persons assisted. In addition to the more than 1,000 emergency taskings undertaken in the last 10 years by the Waterford helicopter team, they also routinely assist the work of the HSE, Garda Siochana, Defence Forces and Local Authorities and many other agencies.
Director of the Irish Coast Guard Chris Reynolds said: â€œOur 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, often in difficult flying conditions. I commend them for their ongoing efforts to make us safer on land and water.â€
Minister Varadkar concluded: â€œIn December last year, this Government announced that funding for the Coast Guard and the RNLI will be protected at existing levels in 2012. In difficult economic times, this is a commitment that demonstrates the value we place on our search and rescue teams right around the country. I would like to congratulate the team in Waterford on the 10th anniversary and to express my thanks and those of the public for the services they provide.â€