A NEW pontoon on the river will help improve response times to emergencies in the Shannon and potentially save lives.
Construction has begun on a new pontoon at Harvey’s Quay for Limerick Marine Search and Rescue, allowing the volunteer group to permanently moor their rescue boat on the river, as they can’t always access the slipway near St Michael’s rowing club during to changes in the tide.
Developed at a cost of some €70,000, the works were funded by the JP McManus Charitable Foundation, after the group submitted a detailed plan and costings for the works. The entirely voluntary service - staffed by 30 people, including two women - is on standby for any calls they receive regarding people getting into difficulty in the river. “We had two call-outs last week, but it varies from week to week. You might get nothing for weeks, and then your beeper could go off three times in one day,” explained one member.
The service is reliant on a grant they receive from Limerick City & County Council to fund their costs, but mainly on the public’s support through fundraising initiatives. One of the members said they were very grateful to the committee in charge of Mr McManus’ philanthropic organisation, as it would have taken them years to fundraise the amount required for the pontoon.
Harvey’s Quay was be closed to traffic for a time during construction on Friday last but has since re-opened, and it is expected that the pontoon will become fully operational in the coming weeks.
Chairman of Limerick Marine Search and Rescue is Tony Cusack said the construction of the pontoon is a long-awaited and much needed development in the city. “The reason we’re putting a pontoon in the water is for faster access to the river. When we get an emergency call we won’t have to be towing a boat behind us , or we won’t have to go to the rescue centre, we can go straight to the pontoon, which will be situated in Poor Man’s Kilkee. It will have a walkway down to it, and two rescue boats and a rescue ski there.”