A MAJOR Search and Rescue demonstration will take place in Dunmore East this weekend. The Irish Maritime Search and Rescue Committee (IMSARC) , which meets at Waterford Airport on September 1st, has traditionally organised a Search and Rescue Exercise/Demonstration the day after their annual meeting each year.
Dunmore East was chosen to stage the event which will be held on Saturday, September 2nd.
“All of the agencies will get a chance to show off their wares and capabilities on a big Search and Rescue demonstration,” explained Area Officer with Dunmore East Coastguard Jim Griffin.
On Saturday morning, the fixed wing CASA aircraft from Baldonnel will be travelling back from France and will deploy a life raft six miles South West of the Hook Head.
New iSLDMB (Iridium Self Locating Datum Marker Buoy) technology will be used for the first time ever in Irish waters to track this life raft.
Marine emergency controls in Malin Head, Valentia and Dublin will be tracking the life raft in real time.
They will put out a Mayday call to say that a life raft has been spotted by an aircraft six miles South West of Hook Head.
Agencies will then be deployed to try and locate the life raft.
The Air Corps, Navy, Customs, RNLI boats and both (the new) Rescue 116 and Rescue 117 will all participate and will be monitoring the effectiveness of the new technology.
“They will monitor what data it sends out and how the satellites react. For the assets at sea, that is the key learning exercise for the weekend,” explained Jim Griffin.
When Rescue 116 is deployed from Dublin, they will also bring members of Dublin Fire Brigade who are trained to go to sea to fight fires as well as Search and Rescue.
Jim Griffin explained that it’s hoped to get as many fire brigades as possible trained to this high standard.
He described the event, which will begin at 10am on Saturday morning, as a “learning curve for everyone”.
He explained that there will be a couple of twists to the scenario designed to test all involved as they get to grips with this new technology.
In the afternoon, from around 2pm, the pier in Dunmore will get busier and will play host to different groups including the Irish Water Safety and the RNLI from Dublin who will be offering a free service on all lifejackets and providing demonstrations.
Through the use of a smoke machine, onlookers will then see smoke billowing from a catamaran which will be located alongside the quay wall.
Pagers will go off and emergency services will recreate a rescue scenario which will be as realistic as possible.
The use of defibrillators will also be demonstrated on the quayside and cliff climbs will also take place in the vicinity.
A running commentary will be provided throughout all events with the use of a speaker system.
Towards the end of the day, all involved will congregate and do a winching exercise which will be followed by a parade of sail.
“Up to last year, the emphasis was solely on a demo for the public,” explained Jim Griffin.
“But it was decided that such an event could also be used for training and the development of a live incident.”
In recent years, a similar demo took place during the popular Tramore Promenade Festival and proved a big attraction, as did the smaller demo which took place during the Food Festival in Dunmore East.
Jim says there is renewed interest in the work that’s being carried out by the emergency services and Search and Rescue crews following the Rescue 116 tragedy in Mayo.
The public will get to see the new Rescue 116 at the event this weekend.
It’s expected that around 200 personnel will participate, meaning the event will bring a welcome economic boost to Dunmore East.
Jim Griffin thanked his Coastguard team and neighbouring teams for their efforts and says Dunmore was chosen for specific reasons to host the event.
“It’s the first time this event is taking place in Waterford and we didn’t get it by chance,” he said.
“The team in Dunmore East are exceptional. Our team has been tasked to nearly every incident in the country. We have real specialists, even though they are volunteers. We’re out on missing persons searches and we have training as good as any Gardaí or Search and Rescue teams in country. The culmination of their hard work is why we got this.”
He added: “Also, because of all the tragedies we’ve had on the South-East coast, they want to utilise the South-East’s waters. The Hook is treacherous at the best of times.”
All are welcome to attend the event in Dunmore on Saturday and kick-start the All-Ireland weekend!