Aqua first aid on the Foyle

Sean Edwards presents Avril Thorne with her Aqua First Aid certificate.
Sean Edwards presents Avril Thorne with her Aqua First Aid certificate.

Foyle Search and Rescue staff and volunteers often spend their time combing the Foyle for signs of missing persons.

In other cases, they face emergency scenarios and their efforts can mean the difference between life and death for people in difficulty in the water,

That’s why, according to Shore Co-ordinator Sean Edwards, it’s vital that the local charity constantly updates the first aid knowledge of the people who work with them.

Now with around 60 volunteers, Sean explains why search and rescue workers need more than just basic first aid to equip them for their roles.

“Recently our volunteers completed their basic aqua first aid,” says Sean.

“It’s first aid which based specifically on dealing with casualties who are in the water. We regularly deal with issues like hypothermia and people who come out of the water often go into shock so we have to be prepared for those scenarios and we believe that all that knowledge is easily carried. It’s vital that people are up to scratch.”

Sean says the organisation is always looking for new volunteers but emphasised that people who are looking for TV like action will be disappointed.

“Sometimes people think if they join it will be something like ‘Baywatch’, but that is not the case at all. It can be quite mundane.” he says.

“While there are times, unfortunately, that we are searching the river or pulling people out of the water, there is a lot of time when we are on call and nothing is happening and sometimes people seem to find that a bit boring. When we are waiting during shifts, it’s very much a family atmosphere and we all get on so well together.”

Despite the fact that the charity continues to operate in a tough funding climate, Sean says the support of local people is what has continued to see them through and drive them to continue with their work.

“We could not exist without the support of the people of Derry. It’s just phenomonal and we’re so grateful for that.”

The latest addition to the skills set at Foyle Search and Rescue is a defibrilator.

“It’s the first time we’ve had a defibrilator, previously we would have to have waited on paramedics if someone’s heart stopped and when staff are given full training we think the defibrilator will be a great asset to what we can do here,” he added.