Letterkenny to University Hospital Galway was the busiest inter-hospital transfer route for Coast Guard helicopters this year.
That’s according the end of year statement from the Coast Guard, which said that in 2019 a total of 123 emergency missions were flown from the offshore islands to the mainland.
In total 770 helicopter missions were flown in 2019, with 378 people categorised as Lives Saved, meaning that loss of life, severe risk to life, or protracted hospitalisation were prevented.
These missions also include inland searches for missing persons in support of An Garda Síochána and Mountain Rescue Teams.
Based out of Shannon, Sligo, Waterford, and Dublin, Coast Guard helicopter services are on 15 minutes notice during the day, and 45 minutes notice during the night.
One of the key points raised in the end of year message was the importance of having the proper emergency equipment on hand at sea, and not relying on mobile phones for communications.
“The capacity to Raise the Alarm and Stay Afloat, are central to the prevention of drownings at sea or on inland waterways.
“The Coast Guard’s core safety message Stay Afloat – Stay in Touch; highlights the importance of never engaging in any commercial or recreational boating activity without wearing a fully serviced Life Jacket or Personal Flotation Device”.
This should be coupled with “a capacity to raise the alarm via means such as a VHF radio, Personal Locator Beacon, EPIRB or mobile phone. This should be supported by informing shore-based colleagues of your intended activity and anticipated return time.”
The Coast Guard cautions that mobile phones should not be considered as a suitable substitute or be relied upon as the only means of emergency communication at sea.
Phone coverage at sea is limited and unreliable. Mobile phones are also highly susceptible to failure due to water ingress.