On page 13 of this week’s edition we carry the welcome news of a new powerboat, FireSwift, which we hope will help Limerick Fire and Rescue Service to save lives. The boat has an impressive top speed of 25 knots – almost 40 miles per hour. Literally 30 seconds after the page had been sent to the printers late this Wednesday afternoon, the sad, haunting sound of an Irish Coast Guard helicopter hovering in the city sky could be heard from the Leader office and a quick telephone call confirmed that FireSwift had also been deployed. It appeared that another person had entered the River Shannon; and so another local family was either fraught with worry, or perhaps unsuspecting of the potential tragedy about to overtake them, their lives potentially cast into the depths of despair. Unless, of course, the heroes who sometimes arrive just in time to save a life got lucky.
We are truly fortunate to have such services as Limerick Fire and Rescue, Limerick Marine Search and Rescue, and other public spirited groups dedicated to helping people in distress. Too often, their work is about bringing some level of closure to distressed families by recovering bodies from the Shannon.
For every city built alongside a river, the potential for vulnerable people attempting to take their own lives is greater. Those brave people deployed on rescue missions will all tell you the same, sad story – the number of people entering the river in recent years has escalated alarmingly. Funeral directors speak, mournfully, of more and more families being bereaved in heartbreaking circumstances.
Also in this week’s edition, we report that local girl Katie Whelan has been voted Limerick Person of the Month for her great work in trying to make a difference – for trying to appeal to people in a vulnerable state of mind by placing life-affirming messages in lights on Thomond Bridge. If Katie’s wonderful initiative saves a single life – and we believe it will – then she will have performed a great service in her young life. Let her idea to honour the memory of her lost cousin – which she calls Lisa’s Lights – be an example to others. Can we not try to ensure that all the bridges on our riverside city carry a message of some kind to those in despair? That message may get through to only a few, but it will spare some families from unspeakable anguish.