A PERMANENT emergency helicopter landing pad is proposed by Mayo County Council for the higher slopes or even the summit of Croagh Patrick.
The decision by the local authority to provide such a facility is hardly surprising given the annual high injury toll amongst climbers.
Coastguard helicopters fly dozens of rescue ‘sorties’ each year. Injured climbers are usually ferried to Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar.
Many of those who are hurt sustain their injuries on the rock and stone-dotted final ascent to the summit where it would be difficult, if not impossible, to land a helicopter.
A spokesman for Mayo County Council confirmed at the weekend that plans for the landing pad are ‘at the early stages’.
One of the first steps will be to carry out a ‘reconnaissance’ of the mountain to determine where such a landing pad might be best located.
This ‘recce’ will be carried out over the next few months.
The landing pad will be lit at night to enable helicopters carry out missions in darkness. Solar powered lighting will be provided due to the lack of cabled electricity.
Mayo Mountain Rescue, who are involved in all rescue operations on the 2,500 foot high mountain, have expressed support in principle for the provision of a landing pad facility “due to the difficulties sometimes experienced in transferring fall victims to a helicopter”.
The county council will seek planning permission for the landing pad through the ‘part 8 process’.
Such a process is applied in cases where a local authority is carrying out work for itself. The documents go on public display, submissions are considered and a recommendation is made by the senior planner. The proposal then goes before a full meeting of the council for consideration