TDs and Senators for Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford, Carlow and Tipperary met on Tuesday to agree a united front to seek guarantees from the Minister for Transport for the retention of the Waterford-based Search and Rescue Service.
Fears have been growing in the South-East region that Rescue 117, a search and rescue helicopter that regularly responds to emergency incidents in Kilkenny, may be removed from its Waterford base.
The fears stem from the publication of a tender by the Department of Transport calling for a new Air Sea Rescue Service.
This terms and conditions of the new Air Sea Rescue Service tender have left locals worrying because it gives scope to reduce the number of national bases 3 compared to the 4 currently operating across the country.
Regional Group TDs have also published a Dáil motion calling on the Government to suspend the Search and Rescue (SAR) services tender process with immediate effect.
The TDs stated that “not having a 24/7 manned helicopter base in Waterford would result in extended travel times for helicopter transfer, further reducing treatment options and outcomes for South-East patients.”
Speaking at the January meeting of the Piltown Municipal District, chair Pat Dunphy said that ‘the service is far too vital to the region to lose’.
“A lot of people have been saved thanks to it and we have to fight to ensure it is retained,” he added.
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