Foyle Search and Rescue attended 50 per cent more incidents in 2017

Foyle Search and Rescue is regarded as Londonderry's fourth emergency service after the police, ambulance and fire services.
Foyle Search and Rescue is regarded as Londonderry's fourth emergency service after the police, ambulance and fire services.
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Foyle Search and Rescue has been hailed for the vital service it provides as it emerged the charity has attended almost 50 per cent more incidents during 2017 than the previous year.

The charity yesterday released its statistics for the past 12 months, which showed that its teams attended 338 incidents over the year, up 45 per cent on 2016.

Seventeen people were rescued directly from the river, and the charity was involved in recovering the bodies of six people.

There were also 129 instances when distressed people were taken away from the river’s edge or bridges. A spokesperson said: “We approached a further 186 people we thought may have needed our help, and if so were signposted to an appropriate agency for further help and guidance.”

Since the charity was founded in 1993, the spokesperson revealed, Foyle Search and Rescue (FSR) has rescued a total of 367 people directly from the river, and helped in excess of 3,231 potentially suicidal people.

Over the 24 years, the charity recovered the bodies of 135 people who lost their lives in the river.

A spokesman said: “We send our condolences to all those families and loved ones who have lost people in the river over the past year, and indeed all the other families who have lost loved ones over the years.”

FSR’s Swift Water teams also provided support to the statutory agencies in August during flash flooding.

The spokesman said 85% of its funding comes through donations.

Foyle Search and Rescue was set up in 1993 in response to the number of lives lost to the River Foyle.