THE IRISH Coast Guard has reported a 12% increase in the overall number of incidents coordinated during 2021.
The biggest increases were recorded in April with 249 Incidents in comparison with 139 in April 2020, and in July with 469 incidents, in comparison with 339 for the same period in 2020.
From September onwards, activity was similar to 2020. The total number of incidents coordinated is expected to reach 2,970 in comparison with 2,665 in 2020.
In its end of year statement, the Coast Guard said it "wishes to thank the public for their cooperation and support during the year including the positive response in adhering with severe weather warnings and extends best wishes for a SAFE 2022."
In terms of overall service delivery, the Coast Guard highlights a category of Lives Saved, defined as assistance provided that prevented loss of life, severe risk to life, or protracted hospitalisation. In 2021, the Coast Guard recorded that 474 individual responses were categorised as Lives Saved.
One of the more notable incidents of the year was the successful evacuation by the Waterford based Coast Helicopter (R117) of seven crew members from a fishing vessel that sunk off the South West coast in March. This operation, which was supported by Naval Service and RNLI resources, resulted in the presentation of national bravery awards to the four helicopter crew. In addition, R117 crew member Sarah Courtney, was awarded a silver medal for her role and actions as ‘winchman’ in the most challenging of weather conditions.
The Coast Guard was notified of a total of 68 drownings in 2021 a reduction of 7 on 2020 figures. Coast Guard works closely with Water Safety Ireland (WSI), in monitoring drowning risks and trends, and supports WSI in compilation of drowning statistics.
Volunteer Coast Guard units provide a combination of Rescue Boat, Cliff Rescue, Shoreline Search Capabilities, and Emergency Community Support in conjunction with the other emergency services. The 44 units were tasked on over 1,400 occasions during the year. Further development in the use of Small Unmanned Aircraft systems (Drones) provide Coast Guard units with an enhanced search capability.
Coast Guard Director Eugene Clonan said the main challenge has been to keep all units of the Coast Guard running since March 2020.
"We are indebted to the men and women that make up our SAR community, for the discipline and commitment they have demonstrated in facing the challenge presented by Covid and in maintaining service availability throughout the year," he said.