by Lorna Siggins.
Published by Gill Macmillan, ISBN 0 7171 3529 2 €12.99
Mayday is the story of air sea rescue in Ireland from the first rescue by the RAF at Roaninis in 1956 to the privatisation of the air corps rescue service in 2003. It is a tale of heroism in the face of the elements and tenacity in the face of government parsimony. One interviewee Ben Heron describes how he undertook a paramedic course at his own expense. The helicopters saved lives not just by sea rescue but by air ambulance duty. The negative aspect of the book must be the realisation that so many of the rescued were in situations which they should have avoided. This ranges from the carelessness of mountaineers and walkers in getting into precarious cliff situations to the greed of fishermen in putting to sea in the teeth of gales in sub standard vessels. There are many items of diver interest not only because so many of the crews are divers themselves. The transfer of a commercial diver from the Whiddy project in Bantry to the chamber at Derry on 29 August 1967 was the first of many such rescue missions. The book is a wonderful record of the work done by the helicopter crews who are long overdue for recognition. It is highly recommended for its readable style maintaining interest and as a headline to anyone who might need helicopter rescue.
reviewed by Eddie Bourke