The first emergency callout to an area covered by the Doolin Unit of the Irish Coast Guard, which was taken out of service on Monday, occurred last night (Wednesday).
The Shannon-based search and rescue helicopter was tasked to the Cliffs of Moher by watch officers at the Irish Coast Guard’s marine rescue sub centre on Valentia Island in Kerry. Gardaí had already made their way to the area to commence a search for a woman after personal property was located on a cliff trail and a car was found nearby.
The search was mounted at around 7.20pm when the Irish Coast Guard received a report that a woman was missing at the popular beauty spot. The volunteer Coast Guard team based at nearby Doolin, was not tasked however as the station was stand down on Monday following six shock resignations.
The crew of Rescue 115 carried out a comprehensive search of the area however they was no definite sighting of the woman. It is expected however that the search will resume on Thursday morning and that the Kilkee Coast Guard unit be tasked to assist Gardaí.
If Doolin Coast Guard had been in a position to respond, volunteers would have been sent to the area to conduct a land based search. However, last night the team could not turn out to the incident as the unit had been ‘taken off the board’ meaning they are not available for calls.
Confirming that the Doolin team had been stood down and wouldn’t be tasked to any water or land based emergencies, an Irish Coast Guard spokesperson said: “In the interim Coast Guard is liaising with other SAR stakeholders in the area in order to provide cover for services that otherwise would be provided by the Doolin unit.”
It’s understood that these stakeholders include the Kilkee Coast Guard unit; Kilrush RNLI in-shore lifeboat; the Aran Islands RNLI all-weather lifeboat; Clare County Fire and Rescue Service as well the Naval Service Diving Section and cave and mountain rescue organisations.
It has also emerged that a team of volunteers from the Ballybunion unit of the Coast Guard in Kerry will be made available to respond to calls in the Doolin area if required. The journey by road is over 150 kilometres and would take over two hours so it’s understood volunteers and their equipment will be flown by helicopter the Doolin if needed.