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Irish Marine Emergency Service

Ardmore Memory and Story - The Sea

7. Irish Marine Emergency Service
The service has been greatly modernised in every way and its title is now the Irish Marine Emergency Service. They have their own motorised wagon with arc lights and generator. There are two sets of uniforms, one for working in and one for ceremonial occasions. Each member has a pager, which is activated in case of emergency (as happened on Sunday 10th October 1999, with a rock-climbing accident at Ardmore Head). A Waterford based helicopter is on call. Cliff climbing is part of the training and the first-aid certificates have to be renewed every year. Gun training is still done at Goat Island, but it is not at all as exciting as it was in our youthful days, when the horse-drawn rocket cart with all the paraphernalia used, set out from Ardmore Coastguard station to Goat Island

At Goat Island, the men stood in a double row, as Mr Morgan quizzed them on their forthcoming duties and other duties in the case of an emergency. The questions were always delivered in a staccatto like manner. Some of the answers were remembered with amusement, as for instance when P.F. was asked what light should be displayed in certain circumstances, poor Paddy faltered and in his embarrassment delivered the prompt from the back row, "a black light sir". Then Padraic Smith was asked what was the first thing he would do on seeing a body on the shore and Padraic answered "go through his pockets sir". Eventually, the order came, "Action, Stations" and all rushed to their various posts.

The lighting of the rocket fuse was the next dramatic action and we watched as the rope spun through the air towards the island. Having arrived safely there, it was attached securely to the pole and somebody went into the breeches buoy and was hauled across to the mainland, where the next phase involved the administration of artificial respiration. Goat Island was an admirable situation for this practise, as the island was envisaged as the ship in distress, and there were always a few volunteers for the trip across in the breeches buoy. Rocket practise days at Goat Island was one of the red letter days of the summer, but time marches on.

The current members of the I.M.E.S. are:
Mike Power, Paddy Foley (Deputy Area Officer), Tony Gallagher, Jimmie Mahoney (Area Officer), Michael Mulcahy, John Whelan, William Mulcahy, Cyril Cody, Biddy Power (only lady member), Glynn Moloney, Billy Mahoney and Dennis McGrath.

The name has now been changed again to Irish Coastguards Ardmore Unit.

Author: Siobhan Lincoln

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