The future of Rescue 117.

The future of Rescue 117.

Green Party TD for Waterford Marc Ó Cathasaigh has welcomed clarity from Minister Eamon Ryan on the future of Rescue 117 after rumours that the crucial rescue service would be transferred from Waterford Airport spread through the county recently. The rescue helicopter is run by the Irish Coast Guard, is based at Waterford Airport and holds a special place in the hearts of the people of Waterford and the South East.

Deputy Ó Cathasaigh said: “I live in Tramore and like everyone else, I am used to the sound of hearing the helicopter flying overhead. Sometimes the helicopter will be doing an exercise in the bay, but too often, it will be participating in a rescue with our other emergency services. Just in the last few weeks, the public would be aware of a number of rescues in Tramore bay alone and also a high profile search, rescue and recovery in the Comeragh Mountains. Many local families have reason to be very thankful to the crew of Rescue 117 for rescuing family members over the years.”

“I spoke to my Green Party colleague and Minister for Transport, Minister Eamon Ryan on the matter and he reassures me that he is not aware of any plans to remove or relocate the CHC base from Waterford Airport. The contractual relationship in relation to the Rescue 117 base is between CHC and Waterford Airport. CHC, is the Coast Guard’s operating company which services aircraft in Waterford Airport and also use it as a training facility. The Department’s contract for a Search And Rescue helicopter service is with CHC which includes bases located in Dublin, Shannon, Sligo and Waterford airports. The contract with CHC is a 10-year contract which commenced in 2012 and would therefore be due for renewal in 2022. However, Minister Ryan informed me that the contract has already been extended for 1 year and may be extended for a further 2 years and no tender has issued for a successor to this contract.”

“For Tramore people, the helicopter and her crew hold a special place in our hearts as many remember the night in July 1999 when a Waterford based helicopter crashed into the Tramore sand dunes with the loss of all on board while returning from a sea-air rescue mission.  Many locals will have fond memories of the late Captain Dara Fitzpatrick who was chief pilot of Rescue 117 when based in Waterford. As a coastal county along the South East of the country with many beaches, water sports, a thriving port, busy fishing communities and a tourism industry built around this wonderful natural amenity, our county and region depend on Rescue 117 and her crew for reassurance and rescue. We also depend on the helicopter for medical transfers and mountain search and rescue operations. The service and the crew of the helicopter are a crucial part of our community in Waterford”

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