The freezing conditions over the Christmas/New Year period saw the Irish Coast Guard Search and Rescue helicopter based at Waterford Regional Airport involved in several weather-related missions.
On December 21st the crews were called to assist a fishing vessel 217 miles due southwest of Waterford where they rescued an injured fisherman. The next day the crews were out again, rescuing a crewman from a coaster off Wexford.
On Christmas Eve the helicopter assisted the fire service in searching for a missing person in Carlow. On St Stephen’s Day an elderly couple had to be taken to hospital from their farm, which was inaccessible by road due to ice and snow – an operation made all the more difficult due to the appalling weather and night-time conditions.
Climbers in the Comeragh Mountains ran into difficulty on December 27th when one of their party broke an ankle; luckily two members of the South Eastern Mountain Rescue team were also out on the range and called the helicopter to assist in their rescue.
Even whilst out training the crew found themselves diverted to the Arran Islands on December 28th to take a man to hospital in Galway.
The New Year started quietly, but by January 5th the helicopter based at Killowen was tasked again, providing reassuring top-cover for a fishing vessel that had broken down 20 miles south of Ardmore Head.
The next day the local SAR crews undertook an unusual night-time mission to move a 36-hour-old baby from Wexford to Dublin for lifesaving surgery.
Over the last few days the crews have been tracking the movements of the lost shipping containers from the BG Dublin vessel off Tramore and Mine Head.
The Waterford base continues to provide 24-hour search and rescue coverage throughout the year for the southeast area, and last year was the unit’s busiest since launching here in 2002.