Tag Archives: rescue

Meath River Rescue

I have no idea what this Dáil written question and answer, from 12 November 2013, are about:

Peadar Tóibín [SF, Meath West]: To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government if his Department will provide direction for a safety procedure (details supplied) to be enforced; if this procedure been enforced in any other region or with any other community organisation; if he will reverse this decision and allow for Meath River Rescue to operate in a fully integrated and efficient manner.

Phil Hogan [FG, Carlow-Kilkenny; Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government]: My colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport is the Minister with responsibility for receiving calls for assistance for inland waterways and mobilisation of appropriate response services. I have no function in the matter referred to in this question.

Googling suggests that Meath River Rescue got €278,358 for a boathouse and training room in Navan, with two FG TDs announcing the grant a year apart [or is one of those dates a typo?]. The service is known to Irish Water Safety but is not one of its Community Rescue Boats Ireland so it’s not a Coast Guard declared resource [which doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it]. Meath River Rescue’s own website and facebook page don’t seem to have been updated since April 2012 [although I am unfamiliar with facebook and may not be interpreting the dates correctly] but the service has been in action as recently as September 2013.

Unfortunately “details supplied” means supplied to the minister, not to readers of Dáil proceedings, so I have no idea what problem was being raised.

 

 

 

Boat fire …

on the Ouse.

Inland lifeboats to be exempt from VAT

Irish Water Safety has issued a press release [PDF] saying that the government is to introduce (or launch or make or pass or something) the Value-added tax (refund of tax) (rescue boats and related equipment) order 2013 which will allow inland community rescue boats to reclaim VAT on their purchases. Under the Value-Added Tax (Refund of Tax) (No 18) Order 1985, coastal community rescue boats have been able to reclaim VAT [PDF] but inland boats have not.

Portumna Water Rescue Service

Portumna Water Rescue Service

Irish Water Safety has a defined role in assessing the eligibility of community rescue boats for VAT exemptions; indeed its checklist and guidelines for community rescue services [PDF] are rather surprisingly headed Inspection for VAT Refund Certificate. The background is explained in another document Inshore Rescue Guidelines [PDF], which will presumably now be amended to include provision for inland boats. The “Declared Facility” boats [those approved and able to claim the VAT exemption] are listed here; there is also a list of other known rescue boats, some of which, being on inland waters, will now presumably apply to IWS for approval. Thus what is already a large rescue service will become even larger and more important.

I have photos of some of these boats on this page. I have none of the Corrib & Mask Rescue service, which I regret as today’s announcement was made on their turf and with their assistance. IWS says:

They will be the first Community Rescue Boat Ireland Lifeboat to be in a position to avail of this financial incentive.

Incidentally, I do not know whether the existing inland lifeboats operated by the Coast Guard and RNLI are affected by this or whether they could already reclaim VAT. If anyone can tell me, I’ll be glad to add the information here.

Lough Derg search: addenda

Some additional information from the Clare Champion and the Limerick Post. The Irish Mirror has one of the few accounts that includes discussions with participants.

More to come.

Searching Lough Derg

Last Friday evening, 21 June 2013, was not a good time to be out on Lough Derg. We were heading north, with the waves behind us, and had little difficulty until entering port, but we could hear on the VHF what must have been one of the biggest search and rescue operations on the Shannon in recent years.

We had switched on at what seemed like a fairly early point in the proceedings, and kept listening until the Coast Guard were assured that everybody was accounted for. We weren’t able to attend to the whole thing, as manoeuvres during and after berthing occupied our attention for some time, but we got a pretty clear picture. The Irish Times report (which will probably disappear behind a paywall at some stage) is here; I think it has some minor details wrong but the gist of it is correct; its later report is here. The Clare Herald has a very detailed account here, the Clare Champion account is here and the Limerick Post adds some information here.

The event was said by the Irish Times to be “hosted for FISA in Ireland by St Michael’s Rowing Club of Limerick” but I can’t see anything about it on either organisation’s website. I presume that the boats were something like this one.

Quad at Clonlara in 2011

It’s a quad, with each rower using two oars; it carries a cox and it’s used for touring rowing, so it’s not as slim as a standard racing shell.

By the way, just to be clear, none of the photos on this page were taken during last Friday’s operation.

RNLI Lough Derg lifeboat

From what we could hear, the operation involved volunteers from Killaloe Coast Guard, the RNLI at Dromineer, the Community Rescue Boats from Mountshannon and Limerick and at least one yacht, which (I think) took one of the rowing boats in tow; that yacht’s participation and careful provision of information to the Coast Guard was admirable.

Killaloe Coast Guard RIB

Killaloe Coast Guard RIB

We heard discussion of proposals to ask the Civil Defence to participate as well, and the Clare Herald confirms they did turn out. It seems that the University of Limerick Activity Centre boat was out too, as was Peter Hooker of RNLI in his own boat.

Limerick Marine SAR Land Rover

Limerick Marine SAR Land Rover

That’s just the volunteers, and if I’ve left anybody out I’m sorry; let me know and I’ll amend this.

Then there were the professionals: the Coast Guard staff on VHF, the Gardaí on shore, the helicopter crew. And, again, the Clare Herald makes it clear that lots of other people were involved too: fire brigade and ambulance units, paramedics and a hospital consultant.

All in all, this was a major operation and a lot of people put in a lot of effort that night, in bloody awful weather.

Communications

I formed the impression that communication amongst the members of the rowing fleet, and between them and the rescue services, was poor. It was difficult to establish what rowers were where and how many were unaccounted for. The Clare Herald story seems to support that conclusion: it says that Gardaí had to travel to the rowers’ hotel to make sure that everybody had turned up and that the search was not formally stood down until 11.30pm.

I don’t know what communications equipment and what sort of organisation and safety procedures the rowing group had, so I’m not going to comment on them. Instead, I want to go off at a tangent. It struck me that life would have been easier for everybody if each boat had had a handheld VHF and someone able to operate it. Such sets can be bought for as little as £50 in the UK or €75 in Ireland.

So the technology is now very cheap and, for short range work as on Lough Derg, a handheld VHF should be adequate. But if you want to be legally entitled to use a VHF set, matters are much more complicated. I’ll discuss that in another post.

Kilkenny Civil Defence

Kilkenny Civil Defence training session on the Shannon

Kilkenny Civil Defence training session on the Shannon

Rescue boats on Irish inland waterways

I’ve moved my photos of rescue boats to a new page and added photos of some more services. Still a lot missing, though.

Boating off piste

Coast Guard rescue between O’Briensbridge and Clonlara.

Lough Ree

Unlike Loughs Derg, Erne and Neagh, Lough Ree does not have a Coast Guard approved declared-resource rescue service, although Athlone Sub Aqua Club, Waveline/Quigley’s and no doubt others have provided help to boats in trouble. Now, it seems, Damien Delaney is hoping to set up a formal, approved service, according to the Wesstmeath Examiner.

Killaloe collision

The Irish Times reports that six people and a dog were rescued from a cruiser after it hit Killaloe Bridge. The cruiser was found to be taking in water. Killaloe Coast Guard report here, with photo of the Emerald Star cruiser being beached at Ballyvalley to stop it from sinking.