'Malicious' call condemned after attempted rescue in Limerick

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

'Malicious' call condemned after attempted rescue in Limerick

Emergency services were called to a river rescue scene at 2.40pm, on Saturday, which turned out to be a hoax

GARDAÍ are investigating an alleged hoax phone call to emergency services that occurred over the weekend in Limerick city.

On Saturday at 2.40pm, emergency services were alerted to a report of a man seen entering the River Shannon, via Thomond Bridge.

Three units of Limerick Fire Service’s Swiftwater Rescue crew attended the scene, with the FireSwift rescue boat. Gardaí, paramedics, coast guard helicopter, and members of the Marine Search and Rescue team also attended the scene.

Emergency services searched the area for approximately 30 minutes. According to a source, attempts to reach the original caller were unsuccessful, and services were then stood down.

It is believed that a “message had been set up on the caller’s voicemail abusing gardaí”.

A member of the Marine Search and Rescue team said that, while there are people who call “in good faith”, there are “malicious calls”.

“It is not funny when you are driving through traffic and you are trying to answer a call, and you see in the pager that it says ‘Person after entering the water at Thomond Bridge’. And you are trying to get there as fast as you can because you think that there is somebody in the water. Then you hear on the radio that it turns out to be a prank call. It is a relief that there is nobody in the water, but it’s the hassle that it causes.

“It is the cost of putting the helicopter in the air. It is the cost of services being put on alert. That helicopter serves a huge catchment area. If there was an emergency somewhere up the country, and it was a prank call, that could be a life or death situation for another emergency somewhere else,” the member explained. 

Cllr John Costelloe, who condemned the alleged hoax call, said the public can “get very anxious” when they see or hear the helicopter.

“They cannot ignore the calls, even if it is a hoax. And they have to go when they get the call. It is just such a waste of money and resources. Their [emergency services] service is so valuable and important in Limerick.”