Sunday 4 December 2016

Hundreds of unsung heroes around the country put their lives at risk to save others

Laura Larkin

Published 14/09/2016 | 02:30

Locals console colleagues of Caitríona Lucas at Doolin Coast Guard station yesterday. Photo: Mark Condren
Locals console colleagues of Caitríona Lucas at Doolin Coast Guard station yesterday. Photo: Mark Condren

Around the coast of Ireland hundreds of hard-working volunteers make huge personal sacrifice, putting themselves at risk to volunteer with the coast guard.

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The Irish Coast Guard Units are crewed by 950 male and female volunteers and are dotted around the coast in strategic locations.

The busiest stations can deal with more than 100 call-outs per year.

So far this year, Doolin Coast Guard, where Caitríona Lucas was based, has dealt with 56 emergency situations.

Most of those who join tend to stay in the so-called "fourth emergency service" for life.

Generations of families tend to get involved, Officer in Charge (OIC) of Cork's Crosshaven station Vincent Farr (48) said last night.

Others join because they have skills picked up in their own profession that can be put to good use in the coast guard.

Some rescuers in Co Clare last night described the service as something of a drug.

It is high octane and adrenaline filled but the driving reason for most is to give something back to the community.

"It is a drug, that feeling of helping someone," Mr Farr told the Irish Independent last night.

"We deal with very vulnerable people, especially when it comes to the family and if you are involved in a search and rescue anything you can bring back to the family means a lot.

"It's always hard and obviously it would be better to bring back only people who have been rescued."

Those who have been saved by Mr Farr and his team in his 18 years of service with the coast guard have often come back to say thanks at a later time.

"Sometimes they come in with their kids and you think that because those people have been rescued by the team those children have their mam and dad back and that's thanks to the actions of people who put themselves at risk to save others," he said.

The father of one said that every member of the coast guard also has to shoulder the burden of the concerns of their loved ones who fear for them every time the pager goes off.

However, despite the high cost that it exacts, Mr Farr said he believed that most members of the coastguard family would continue their involvement.

Irish Independent

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