The Strandhill-based Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue 118, passed a major milestone last week, completing their 300th search and rescue mission this year.
The number smashes their previous record of 275 missions in a single year. Services provided by the Sligo helicopter include; operations conducted off the West and North West coasts out to 200 miles, services to casualties on offshore island and support provided to the HSE ambulance service.
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, congratulated the crew, saying: ““We can take great pride in the work that is carried out by the Coast Guard Helicopter team in Sligo and at the three other bases. On behalf of the government and people of the North West I congratulate them on reaching this significant milestone.
“I am very mindful of the excellent cooperation that exists between the Coast Guard helicopter service and the HSE ambulance service, ensuring that casualties in need of urgent care can be quickly transported to hospitals.”
Minister Ring also acknowledged the excellent work of the Volunteer Coast Guard teams in supporting the Sligo based helicopter; “Our Coast Guard volunteer teams from Mayo, Galway, Clare and Donegal regularly support helicopter operations in the North West by preparing landing sites and assisting casualties, and we are greatly indebted to their commitment and professionalism.”
Last year the Sligo team was awarded the Frederick L. Feinberg award for outstanding achievement for a SAR mission completed in the Bluestack Mountains, Donegal.
The Coast Guard operate three other helicopter bases in Shannon, Dublin, and Waterford who between them to date have completed nearly 900 missions in 2015.
The increased level of activity is indicative of the increased operating capability of the recently acquired S-92 helicopters.
As well as longer range and improved cruising speeds, the Coast Guard helicopter fleet is equipped with enhanced rescue mission technology, including infra-red and low light cameras, a ‘night sun’ searchlight, a modern dual-hoist system, and a satellite communications system.