The Irish Coast Guard has issued a safety notice to its volunteers who drive coast guard vehicles while using blue lights.
In an email to volunteers, which was seen by EmergencyTimes.com, the Irish Coast Guard has instructed drivers of coast guard vehicles not to use blue lights or sirens while on the public road or responding to calls.
‘The risks associated with driving blue-light vehicles on public roads have been discussed around the coasts for some time. These risks need to be mitigated, particularly in term of the safety of volunteers, other road users and members of the public.
This has been an issue which has been discussed for some time among volunteers and Officers-in-Charge OiC at the IRCG, and in particular at conferences and sector meetings.
The directive added ‘Therefore, to manage the risk lease note that drivers of Coast Guard vehicles are no longer permitted to use Blue Lights and warning devices (sirens) while driving on public roads.
Blue lights and sirens may continue to be used while the vehicle is parked up. I appreciate that this is a significant change to what you may have been doing on the pubic roads, however, I trust you understand the reasoning for the change outlined in this safety notice.
Coast Guard volunteers have expressed their dissatisfaction and concerns about this new directive and have said it may result in putting crews in danger.
One volunteer who contacted Emergency Times said “Management are putting crews in danger, by not letting us use blue lights to respond, and when crews turn up an hour later to family members around incidents it will get hostile”.
The volunteer fears that the Irish Coast Guard MRCC it is not fulfilling its obligation to respond in a timely manner.
Some coast guard volunteers also come from other Principal Response Agencies and may currently be training in blue light training.
EmergencyTimes.ie contacted the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport for a comment last night but we have not yet received a response so far.
Irish Coast Guard crews in Bundoran, Co. Donegal. (Photo: Declan Keogh / Emergency Times)