New pontoon to help rescuers reach people in trouble on Shannon
A new pontoon will help river rescuers reach people in difficulty in only 90 seconds and may lead to more lives being saved.
Rescue divers in Limerick said the new €70,000 pontoon, which is moored on the River Shannon, will enable them to reach someone much more quickly.
The Limerick Marine Search and Rescue Service (LMSRS) is regularly called out to help people in distress on the river.
There has been a surge in the number of suicide attempts along the Shannon in recent years.
Father and son Tony and Tom Cusack are both members of LMSRS and thanked local philanthropist and horse racing tycoon JP McManus for funding the new pontoon.
"It's been my dream for the service to have something like this for many years. I'd like to thank JP McManus for helping us. It means we will cut our response times to about 90 seconds," said Tony (61).
In the past five years, the service's dedicated volunteers have responded to more than 250 emergency call-outs and have helped in searching for 35 water-related missing persons, amounting to 16,500 man hours.
Tom (33) said the advantage of working alongside his father was that they instinctively knew what the other was thinking. "We're fairly close like that. And we work very well together underwater as well," he said.
Their close bond becomes invaluable when one or both cannot make it to a victim in time.
"The low points are definitely recovering bodies, and seeing the families - the aftermath that's left behind, with families being so upset," said Tom.
"It's something I've never gotten used to."