The Department of Transport confirmed today that a preferred bidder has been nominated to supply the Coast Guards search and rescue (SAR) helicopter contract service.
The main role of Coast Guard helicopters is to provide Ireland’s 24/7/365 maritime and coastal SAR rescue service, locating persons 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) in the execution of their roles and during major national emergency situations on land.
There will be no change in the existing 24 hour service from 4 centres until the new contract enters on a phased basis in 2012-2013.
Thereafter, it is expected that the four existing bases will continue in operation, with Waterford on a 12 hour basis, subject to review.
The Department of Transport does not propose to comment further on the contract until the tender process is completed.