Speaker for 19th February 2019

Vice President Derick Woods greets Sean McGarry and Barry Torrens (L) with club member James Nesbitt (R)

Coleraine Probus and the 'Community Rescue Service'

There was a puzzled look on Probus faces when Vice President, Derick Woods, welcomed and introduced the morning speakers to club members. Sean McCarry and Barry Torrens, had come along to talk about ”The Community Rescue Service”. For most of the members this was an unknown service. However, it wasn't long before they realised what an extraordinary group they were and how many people, local and across North Ireland, owed their lives to the heroes of this splendid service.

Meet the Team

Sean McCarry is the Director of the Association of Lowland Search and Rescue and Regional Commander of the local Community Rescue Service (CRS). Sean gave a detailed insight into the initial setting-up and organization of the charitable Community Search and Rescue Service in Coleraine, which was the founding unit in Northern Ireland, their motto being “Rescue from hill to shore high water mark”.

The service came about when it was realised that 'Mountain Rescue' teams covered emergencies on hills over 200 feet above sea level. And the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) had a remit for 'Saving lives at Sea', not rivers and at the shoreline. This left a large gap between the two, for the Police and Fire services to cover. With a growing workload and reduced budgets and staffing, there was a gap that the CRS and it's volunteers could fill, and have filled so dramatically well - even if most people don't realise this!

A speedy river rescue

The Police now work closely with the service and responsibility is passed to the CRS for many areas of concern and emergency help. This includes river and land search and rescue, suicide prevention, lowland rescue search dogs, safety patrols, public education, 'blood bikes' to deliver essential blood and medical supplies and crisis intervention.

Back to our speakers, Barry Torrens, the son of Probus member Ross, is the Coleraine CRS Unit Commander. Barry is also ex-RAF, a private pilot, a local businessman and a Barrister (that's NOT someone that makes coffee - WebEd). He is also no stranger to the club. Barry has been Probus guest speaker in 2014 and 2015 when he shared his experience of trips to Mont Blanc and Everest, at the time of earthquake, when he was lucky to escape alive - a motivation for joining CRS perhaps?

Going into action on a snowy road

The CRS Volunteers are trained in the use of hi-tech equipment to national standards, to deliver “a best in class” service, and to work in partnership with other units to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the community in which they serve. And for that, surely we are all very grateful, even if these heroes are almost invisible to many of us.

Some of the events you can see the CRS at - but hopefully NOT in action!

(A special 'Thank-you' to Graham for his help with the report
on this talk, held in a last minute change of room)

If you would like to find out a bit more about the CRS, just 'Click' the logo below (this will open in a new window).