Fingal County Council has announced, in partnership with the Irish Coast Guard and Howth SAAO Committee, that a new safety initiative for Howth has been completed.
The innovative network of safety signage is now in place on the Howth Looped Paths walking trails.
These numbered signs assist those in need of help to provide an accurate location to the Irish Coast Guard. The system has already enabled the Irish Coast Guard to significantly reduce response times to emergencies on Howth Head.
Howth welcomes many visitors each year to enjoy the spectacular views along the coastal paths.
Frequently visitors who get into difficulty along the cliff paths are unfamiliar with the area and unable to provide emergency services with an accurate location.
Each of the new safety signs has a unique number to enable the Irish Coast Guard to locate causalities quickly when they call 112/999 and provide the sign location number.
Mayor of Fingal Cllr David Healy said “As Mayor of Fingal I am delighted to mark the completion of the new network of safety signage along Howth’s Looped Paths in partnership with the Irish Coast Guard (Howth Station) and the Howth Special Amenity Area Committee. Already this initiative has resulted in the Irish Coast Guard locating casualties and attending emergencies in quicker response times. I encourage other coastal communities to replicate this successful partnership”
A spokesperson for the Irish Coast Guard explains: “The role of the Irish Coast Guard is to co-ordinate via its three national operations centres the response to emergencies on the beaches, cliffs and seas around Ireland. Requesting the Coast Guard to a location where an ambulance can’t easily access on the coast ensures the ambulance service are contacted immediately but critically also rescue teams with a wide variety of tools at their disposal from rescue helicopters and shore based rescue teams to lifeboats. This ensures the best response is given to the casualty.
The next challenge can be then locating the individuals in an area with no signposts, landmarks, eircodes or roads and which they may be unfamiliar with. As each sign has an easy to follow location number this allows for a quick dynamic response by rescue teams ensuring the best possible outcome for those the need help.”
This has already come into play on a number of occasions this year; the most recent been a reported cardiac arrest on the Howth Cliff Path, the use of the location number from the safety sign allowed rescue teams get to the casualty within five minutes using local knowledge to access the cliff path. This resulted a quick positive outcome for the patient; the alternative would have meant a minimum of a 20 minute search to locate the casualty by a number of search teams and then transfer of medical equipment to that location.
Where the signs aren’t available we would encourage the public to continue to contact the COAST GUARD at 112 or 999 if they see someone who needs help on the beach, water or cliffs around our coast.