independent

Thursday 20 September 2018

Kids flying high after Coast Guard's visit

The Coast Guard’s Paul Cahill and his son Brandon with winchman Barry Clarke and captain Barry O’Connor
The Coast Guard’s Paul Cahill and his son Brandon with winchman Barry Clarke and captain Barry O’Connor
Pupils, teachers and members of the Coast Guard with Rescue 117 during the flying visit to St. Anne’s NS in Rathangan

Anna Hayes

There was great excitement for the pupils at St Anne's NS in Rathangan when members of the local Coast Guard and the Rescue 117 helicopter paid them a visit.

The 264 pupils in the school got the chance to take a closer look at the rescue helicopter and find out more about how the crews operate in emergency situations.

The helicopter had been due to visit the school a week earlier but low lying fog in Waterford Airport scuppered this plan.

But, the following week, with clear skies and perfect conditions, Paul Cahill from Kilmore Quay Coast Guard contacted school principal Nicola Roche to let her know that they were en route and much excitement ensued.

'You could actually hear the helicopter coming for quite a while before it landed. It arrived, hovered for a few minutes and then landed at around 10 a.m. The Coast Guard had come out before that and cleared the field because it is a designated landing spot for the helicopter. The whole thing was very well orchestrated.'

Retired priest Fr Jimmy Ryan, who happened to call into the school on the day, subsequently performed a blessing for the crew and talked about the important work that they did.

Following that, Mark O'Callaghan from the crew spoke about their work, the helicopter and its features, and water safety in general. They also carried out a number of demonstrations, with a couple of kids getting to grip with how the winches worked!

The morning finished with a question and answer section from the kids.

Refreshments were offered to the crew by the school before they proceeded to depart the scene, once again, delighting the gathered kids with their aerial manouveres.

Ms Roche paid special tribute to Paul Cahill, who has a child in the school, for setting the event up, saying it had been the highlight of the week for the pupils.

The full crew, from Kilmore Quay Coast Guard and Rescue 117, that attended the event were: Paul Cahill, John Manning, Sean Keegan, Patrick Bellew, Jonathan Gethings, Mark Murphy, Brian Roche, Mark O'Callaghan, Barry Clarke and Captain Barry O'Connor.

Mr Cahill said of the visit: 'Our main objective was to raise awareness of water safety. We try to bring the aircraft to a different school each year and the guys are always happy to pose for pictures and to show the kids how various equipment like stretchers, strops and the winch work.'

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