Sunday 21 July 2019

Three hoax 999 calls in three weeks

Mary Fogarty

A call to the Old Long Hill area turned out to be a false alarm last Friday - the third of its kind in a matter of weeks.

Chief Fire Officer Aidan Dempsey said that the authorities are unsure if this was a malicious call or a mistake made by a well-meaning member of the public.

They received a report of a person in distress in the area last Friday evening at around 6 p.m. Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue, gardaí, paramedics, the Coast Guard helicopter, and the fire service were all deployed.

They found nothing and, after a number of hours, were stood down. As part of the operation, the authorities closed the road and searched the quarry, and the helicopter used heat-seeking technology but found nobody.

'If you receive a hoax call or false alarm call to a house fire, you get there and quickly establish that fact,' said Mr Dempsey. 'Then the services are subsequently available to attend other emergencies.'

In a case such as the report on Friday, and similar reports in the past weeks at Bray Head and the harbour in Bray, resources are used for several hours to search, wasting their time and rendering them unavailable for genuine emergencies.

'You have to assume the worst,' said Mr Dempsey. 'Otherwise you could potentially be leaving a person in great difficulty,'

Mr Dempsey said that gardaí are aware of the reports and are investigating the matter.

Posting on social media, Loughlinstown Ambulance Station said that, occasionally, the 999 number receives calls from the public that turn out to be false alarms, with no malicious intent and that such calls are reflective of citizens that have good intentions that turn out to not require emergency services.

However, on rare occasions, 999 receives hoax calls. In the past three weeks, members of the ambulance service, ground Coast Guard teams, Rescue 116, the fire service and the gardaí have been subject to these incidents.

'Calls like these risk the lives of all members of the emergency services and possibly divert life-saving resources away from members of the public in genuine distress,' said the station in its statement.

Anyone with any knowledge regarding these incidents can contact Bray Garda Station on 01 6665300 or the garda confidential line on 1800 666 111.

Bray People