Saving lives on the Lough

THERE may be a clear camaraderie among the tireless volunteers, but make no mistake - Lough Neagh Rescue take their job of saving lives deadly seriously.

Juts this week they helped pluck a person from frozen waters near Toome. In recent months they have also played a decisive role in saving vessels in peril and locating bodies from the murky depths.

They are there when they are called upon - ready at a moment’s notice to speed to the rescue.

It is a well-oiled machine - with lives on the line, they have to be - and preparation is key.

Every Tuesday from 7pm to 9.30pm you will find Lough Neagh Rescue volunteers training down at their new Gateway Centre base in Antrim.

Various training takes place every week from first aid, radio communication, navigation, geographical location familiarisation using Lough Neagh maps, boat handling out on the Lough itself or on the Sixmile River.

This involves training on a number of different rescue boats. And it take place in all weathers.

One Sunday morning each month they also conduct Swift Water Rescue Technician training, which involves volunteer crews being in the water at various locations wading, swimming, performing set area search exercises all whilst gaining vital local knowledge of the areas they may need to be involved in a missing persons operation.

They currently have 16 volunteers in the Antrim LNR base, nine of which are Swift Water Technician trained.

They also have two other stations on Lough Neagh, one in Kinnego and one in Arboe - and both of these stations have a further 25 volunteers.

COVID restrictions permitting, they also have regular training sessions with local Antrim Fire Station personnel.

In the past they have welcomed schools, scouts and various charities into the station so they can give vital water safety information.

When the current pandemic is over the plan to step up these information sessions.

In the meantime, the hard work goes on.

The waters of Lough Neagh can still be treacherous and that threat is not diminished during a pandemic.

But when accidents happen, as they surely will, you can count on Lough Neagh Rescue to be there.

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