Recreational divers in Ireland provide a community based resource for the Civil Authorities to call upon in the event of a water based tragedy and the unfortunate victim has not been located.
The protocol for the call out of qualified Search and Recovery divers is based in a Service Level Agreement between the Irish Coastguard (IGC) and the Irish Underwater Council (IUC), with the initial request ordinarily coming from the Gardai (AGS).
It is a condition of the SLA that only qualified and currently certified divers affiliated to the IUC should be involved in the water during such searches.
Divers with Leitrim SAC have been trained and subsequently considered to qualify to be called out by the Coastguard but the divers must retain the qualification status each year by participating in two training exercises.
They conducted one of these in-water exercises near the Rowing Club beside Carrickonshannon Bridge, in conditions that could be considered to be quite demanding.
In addition to the swiftly moving River Shannon current the divers had to overcome poor in-water visibility and very cold temperatures at 4 degree Celsius.
Generally such a search is conducted using a swim-line technique, effectively the divers hold onto a rope that is controlled on the surface by snorkelers, colleagues in a boat or walking along a shoreline.
The divers are usually no further apart than they can see their dive buddy on either side or as in this case effectively in touching distance of their next person on the line.
The swim-line is moved along a set course and repeats the pattern in a line until all the search area has been covered.
All the IUC divers involved in Search and Recovery are unpaid and provide their own equipment; their only reward is in doing their civic duty in times of need.
So well done to Gerry Gilroy and his colleagues for their community spirt and finally a special word to welcome to John Mc Carry from Drumshanbo, who has just recently joined Leitrim SAC.