Blue lights and audible warnings have been approved by the Department of Transport for use on all Mountain Rescue Ireland (MRI) vehicles, with appropriate legislation expected to be put in place during the first half of 2023.
Up to now MRI vehicles and mountain rescue teams have not been permitted to use blue lights and audible warnings, which are an essential part of the emergency response by emergency services to life-threatening and time-critical situations.
However, following engagement between officials from the Department of Transport, the MRI and An Garda Síochána, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton TD approved the inclusion of MRI vehicles within the legislation governing the use of blue lights and audible warnings.
On making the recent announcement, Minister Naughton acknowledged the invaluable work of Mountain Rescue Ireland (MRI) in providing support and rescue services in some of the most inaccessible places in the State.
“It is right that the use of blue lights and audible warning are restricted to emergency vehicles responding to life-threatening and time-critical scenarios. However, we should now include MRI as part of that group of essential services that can utilise them,” she added.
“From a road safety perspective, An Garda Síochána, MRI and the department have identified the need for advanced driver training for MRI volunteers in order to use blue lights and audible warnings responsibly and safely. However, the department also recognises that MRI is a voluntary organisation, with limited funding.”
The Department of Transport will provide the necessary funding of, and administrative support for, required driver training on behalf of MRI. This will allow the mountain rescue organisation the current funding to continue to be used on lifesaving equipment and suitable vehicles.
The Department will work with MRI, and other agencies as relevant, to finalise the details around administration, funding and the appropriate level of training. These should be confirmed early next year and further engagement with MRI will be undertaken. The Department will also work with the relevant state agencies to develop the technical and operational structures needed to support a safe blue light service for MRI and the public.