COST-SAVING PLAN WILL SAVE DEPARTMENT €1 MILLION ANNUALLY Outrage at decision to cut back rescue service hours
THERE HAS been outrage expressed throughout Co Wexford at the Government's decision to scale back the coastguard helicopter service for the south east by halving its hours.
Waterford search and rescue base is to be reduced to a 'daylight operation' under new costsaving plans from the Department of Transport, which would result in an estimated saving of €1 million annually.
The Department of Transport said an unnamed preferred bidder has been chosen to supply the contracted helicopter service for the Coast Guard search and rescue (SAR) service.
A spokeswoman for the department said no further details would be given of the contract until the tender process is completed.
The three other centres – in Dublin, Sligo and Shannon – will remain as 24-hour services while the south east helicopter will have its hours halved by 2013, with the scaling back due to begin on a 'phased basis' in 2012.
'Thereafter, it is expected that the four existing bases will continue in operation, with Waterford on a 12-hour basis, subject to review,' the spokeswoman said.
Coast Guard helicopters provide a round-the-clock maritime and coastal SAR rescue service, locating those in distress or imminent risk, providing immediate medical treatment where required, and evacuating them to an appropriate place of safety.
The helicopters also carry trained fire brigade and Health Service Executive (HSE) personnel. They provide equipment for incidents on ships at sea.
Their role is also to investigate and act to mitigate marine pollution, and support communities on the islands of Ireland by evacuating the seriously ill or injured, and assisting in the event of major emergencies.
They are also available to assist the other three blue-light services (Garda, ambulance service and fire services) when needed in emergencies.