THE POST (21.01.2018)

A hundred lives saved by Limerick river patrol


 Cian Reinhardt


January 21, 2018



Michelle O'Grady Limerick Suicide Watch

MORE than a hundred lives have been saved at the last moment since the dedicated team of the Limerick Suicide Watch began their vigil on the city banks of the Shannon.

Since they began patrolling the river in the darkest hours, the volunteers with Limerick Suicide Watch (LSW) have had more than 100 interventions where they have spoken to people in distress who may have been contemplating taking their own lives in the river.

The group were recent winners of the Limerick Chamber Awards in the Best Community and Voluntary Sector Organisation 2017, Limerick Suicide Watch (LSW), have had more than 100 interventions since they began in May 2016.

LSW is a suicide prevention group who patrol the bridges and rivers of Limerick. The group has more than 60 member volunteers, and relies entirely on donations from the public, which goes towards training, insurance and vital equipment for the volunteers.

LSW First Aid Officer Michelle O’ Grady, is one of the newer recruits who started patrolling the banks of the Shannon at night in January 2017.

“Often when driving along the river or over the bridges at night I would see the teams and wanted to learn more about what they did. I hoped that in volunteering with a group that deals with suicide that it might help a person or family that was struggling with suicidal thoughts or attempts at suicide to get the help that they need,” said Michelle.

Members patrol every Monday from 8pm, Tuesday and Thursday from 9pm and Saturdays from 12am until the early hours. Each member is required to commit to three nights per month, one of which must be a Saturday night.

All members have Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) training, they have taken courses in Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), defibrillator training, First Aid, Self harm Awarness and child protection courses.

“The equipment is extremely important, if somebody goes in to the river and you are trying to retrieve them. It’s also used for our members in the event that somebody is on the river edge and one of our patrol members is talking to them,” said Michelle.

Already having a busy career at the Crescent Veterinary Clinic, when applying to become a volunteer Michelle had to see if she could organise patrolling at night around her working life.

“I can work around my patrol hours with my job which is great. We have many members who would have early starts after doing patrols and it shows great dedication from the members to give up their time to volunteer,” said Michelle.

There are normally have ten members on patrol each night consisting of three teams. Two foot patrols of four on each team, and two bikes on patrol also.

After an intervention support is offered to all members and there is a counsellor available to them.

“Personally I have been involved with three interventions. I find that being able to help somebody get the help they need is a good way of coping. Of course your team members are on hand if you do have an intervention and their support is paramount, and your team members are great for checking on each other the next few days, as an intervention may not affect you straight away,” said Michelle.

Michelle said the team would often say hello to each person they pass while out on patrol, because sometimes they would meet people who would just want to have a chat because they are lonely or worried about something.