Limerick Land Patrol is prepared for the call

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

Members of the recently established Limerick Land Search Team [Picture: Dave Gaynor]
In recent months and years, the awareness of missing people has been heightened thanks to social media and a number of high-profile cases locally.

In recent months and years, the awareness of missing people has been heightened thanks to social media and a number of high-profile cases locally.

While nobody wants to have to be put in the position of having to search for a loved one, a new group has been set up, and is holding regular training sessions to ensure they are prepared for the worst case scenario of having to carry out thorough searches.

Limerick Land Search and Rescue is made up of between 20 and 30 people, mainly youngsters who have developed an awareness of the need to rally together when people go missing.

Meeting in Corbally and patrolling the city as required, the group is the only land-based search team between the urban area and Abbeyfeale.

Corbally man Adrian Kiely, who co-founded the group, said due to their location, they can be in action within the hour.

“We think we need this team here so we can get out, and if anyone does go missing, we can be out within an hour,” he confirmed,

“It is good to have a team on this side.”

Already, they have played a key role in recent searches for missing students Steven Kavanagh, Mark Casey and Aidan Quinn.

Donating their time voluntary, 13 members of the group have also just completed a Cardiac First Responders first aid course with Dan Corbett of the Ambicare Group, based in Henry Street.

Each weekend, the group gathers in Cratloe Woods to recreate a ‘real life’ scenario of a missing person. “We go through rough terrain. We are getting the lads trained up for situations in case someone does go missing,” Adrian says.

The Limerick Leader joined the volunteers on a search operation in the woods.

Kileely man Keith Ryan tells me: “We will be doing a bit of line-search training. We are going to have someone in the woods lying down.”

The group gathers beside the lake which lies at the entrance to the woods, and a description is offered of the missing person.

In this case, it is a girl in her teens, reported as wearing a blue jacket, black pants, and having blondie-brown hair.

Working in a line, a short distance away from each other, the group combed the area, under orders not to stray too far.

Clues were deliberately left in the area to aid the group, with a torn up handkerchief one such example.

The young girl was found in 15 minutes on this occasion - but the group know that in real life, it could be a lot longer.

At present, Limerick Land Search and Rescue operates on a demand-responsive basis.

“We are a 100% voluntary group. We go on calls from the immediate family or a missing person, or other search and rescue teams,” Shane Higginson, Kennedy Park, says.

The group is funded through “donations and other kindness”, with regeneration giving a donation and Corbett Suicide Prevention Patrol also donating equipment.

Despite working hand-in-hand with other rescue services, Land Search and Rescue are keen to stress their independence - working on land, as opposed to the water.

Adrian tells me: “We are a separate group. We work with other groups if we had to. If they called on us, we would give a hand, or if we need a hand we would call them.”

Something that is obvious is the young profile of the group.

Keith says students and youngsters are often keen to give back to the community, and this is their way of doing it.

“It is great for team bonding too. Everyone has an interest in what we are doing, and want to help. We started off with the bare ten of us, and it has grown very fast. There is a great rapport from everybody. Even when we are out of uniform, people recognise us. And we feel it gives peace of mind to a family to know there are people out there they can ring. They know we can be out there quickly in the event of someone going missing.

The group meets for patrols at least five days a week.

For more information, and to join up, contact Adrian at 085-2152698.