Council praise for search and rescue volunteers

Members of the Community Rescue searching the Braid River. INBT05-213AC
Members of the Community Rescue searching the Braid River. INBT05-213AC

Ballymena councillors have spoken of their admiration of and support for the Portglenone based Community Rescue Service (CRS) whose members were recently involved in the search for missing local woman, Elizabeth Greer.

Their comments came following a presentation by local CRS member Connor Duncan to a Council committee on the work of the Service whose dedicated volunteers are ready to respond to a call-out at a moment’s notice.

He explained that CRS, which was established in 2007, is a province-wide search and rescue organisation which specialises in missing persons and which receives, on average, 150 calls a year.

The local base at Portglenone was set up some five years ago and its volunteers, which currently number 20, cover the River Bann area and are involved in crisis intervention, rural and urban searches, water rescue, community support and education.

Like their colleagues elsewhere, they also search for missing persons province-wide and were heavily involved in the search for Elizabeth Greer after she went missing in Ballymena on January 22 and whose body was recovered in the Randalstown area four days later.

Referring to that specific operation, Connor said: “We have those sad elements of search and rescue that we have to do.”

He underlined that all CRS members are volunteers, responding 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year.

“No wages are paid. That’s the dedication we show because we care about what we do...We are extraordinary people doing extraordinary things,” Connor said.

He thanked councillors for their ongoing support of the local unit who, he added were delighted to be shortly moving into the Council’s new marina facility complete with a state-of-the-art communication suite.

Cllr Monica Digney said their new premises were “rightly deserved.”

Speaking of her admiration for the local volunteers, Cllr Beth Adger said: “For people to give up their time to save the life of somebody else...You are doing a great job. I admire the work that you do and wish you well with it.”

Cllr Timothy Gaston said the CRS members offered a frontline service and were ‘a credit to their families and their community’.

Their remarks were echoed by Cllr Martin Clarke, Tommy Nicholl and Roy Gillespie and Declan O’Loan who said: “Yours is the sort of organisation that, now it’s set up, you wonder ‘how we ever did without them’”.