Date Published : August 11th, 2015 Published By : admin
Offaly Civil Defence and Lagan Search & Rescue from Northern Ireland conducted a joint exercise recently in Belfast. Ten members of Offaly Civil Defence Swift Water Responders travelled to Belfast with the county’s Civil Defence Officer Raphael Fallon and the Principal of the Civil Defence College Roisin McGuire over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
(By Declan Keogh)
Plans for the visit began some weeks ago when the CDO contacted Lagan Search & Rescue and discussed the possibility of an exchange visit. Strict measures were required prior to the exchange taking place. After a number of weeks n contacting the various cross-border authorities, permission for the exchange as granted by the Department of Foreign Affairs Anglo Irish Division in Dublin, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Department of Defence in Northern Ireland.
Raphael Fallon, Offaly Civil Defence Officer initiated the exchange process and contacted his counterpart Philip Batt Training & Development Officer, Lagan Search & Rescue, based in Belfast. The Offaly crew departed Tullamore on Saturday morning 1st August and arrived at the Queens University, Belfast for the overnight stay in the student accommodation block. The group were met by members of LSAR (Lagan Search & Rescue) who escorted them to their Head Quarters in Dalton Street, for a full Operational brief on their activities and area of operations, some of their area takes in the Titanic Quarter.
Philip Batt provided the groups with an extensive walking tour. During the day, the group was split up in two, one group going out on the Lagan in their RIB while the remainder took part in the walking brief, at a later stage both groups then changed over to complete the full familiarization brief.
On Sunday morning all crews assembled at LSAR base and proceeded to the Titanic Quarter where official photos were taken with the Titanic building. Plaques and Shirts were also exchanged as mementos of our visit, before a combined water exercise with both services taking place.
Photo: (Lagan Search & Rescue Team)
The Civil Defence and the Search & Rescue teams converged in ‘Shaws Bridge’, an area where LSAR train on a regular basis. Various scenarios were played out over a number of hours, and de-briefs took place following each, with ideas and problems encountered being discussed and the best approach to take while in the water, or conducting medical intervention on the bank following recovery of casualties.
Photo: (Offaly Civil Defence group, with Titanic backdrop)
The exercise proved to have been a great asset to the volunteers and after a long day, members headed back on the road to Offaly. Offaly’s Civil Defence Officer has thanked his volunteers for giving up their Bank Holiday week-end to participate in this exercise, Staff at the Civil Defence College for their assistance, Philip Batt and all his crew for the fantastic reception which was received. Lagan Search & Rescue have been invited to Offaly at a later stage for a similar exercise and occasion.