Waterford river heroes save an incredible 140 lives in less than 10 years
Brothers Darryl and Declan Barry said the generosity of the public is to thank for the hard work Waterford Marine Search and Rescue (WMSAR) have achieved as it nears its landmark 10th birthday next month.
“We started off with four volunteers, two suits, two life jackets, a radio, 20 litres of fuel and lend of a boat. We had nothing,” Darryl says of setting up WSMAR in 2010.
“Looking back on it now to see what we’ve achieved in 10 years. We have three search and rescue boats, two vehicles, 50 volunteers, a state-of-the-art base.
“We did all that in the midst of a recession as well. It’s a testament to the people of Waterford as well, our volunteers here. People are so generous because they see the work that we do.”
Since the two brothers founded WMSAR, it has saved more than 140 lives saved, has a crew of 50-plus trained volunteers, and a base to conduct life-saving training.
Established as the country battled the economic downturn, WMSAR started from scratch with a few donations and help from businesses in the area.
“Even though we set out as a search and rescue service, it started to turn into a suicide prevention operation.
“We decided to put a patrol system in place to see if we could stop people from entering the water instead of waiting for someone to enter and for the phone to ring and then to have to respond.
“Our suicide search and patrol has saved over 140 lives since we started,” Darryl told the Irish Independent.
“We were the first here in Waterford to set up a suicide patrol, and that was a great achievement I think.
“We try and do as much prevention work as possible and the suicide prevention patrols definitely have paid off.
“Wexford Marine Watch have started up their patrol system, we helped Limerick get set up, they have two patrol teams now. Galway are after setting up, and Clonmel.
“There’s an awful lot of different areas that have started up on the back of Waterford city,” he added.
“We would find [we need more supports in] January and February – when things quieten down, relatives have gone home and the Christmas tree has come down.
“It’s a lonely time and the bills start coming in. We find that seems to be busier than Christmas.”
If you have been affected by any issues raised in this article, you can contact Samaritans helpline 116 123 or Aware helpline 1800 80 48 48 or Pieta House on 1800 247 247.