Some of the divers who attended the search and recovery training that Sheephaven SAC hosted.
Search and Recovery (SAR) is an integral part of what Sheephaven Sub Aqua Club (SAC) is about.
The club was founded primarily as a sports diving club but soon became aware of its unique position of being able to help in underwater searches when tragedy strikes. Two of those founding fathers are currently still active in Sheephaven SAC, Willie Sheridan and Noel Brennan.
Statutory bodies, such as the Coast Guard, gardaí, Garda Underwater Unit, Air Corps and Naval Service; and voluntary bodies including RNLI, cliff and coastal rescue services and Civil Defence are on hand to tend to such tragedies.
Where do Sheephaven SAC and CFT fit in?
Sheephaven SAC is a diving club affiliated to Comhairle Fo Thuinn (CFT), the Irish Underwater Council. CFT divers will participate in SAR operations within specific units established in a club or region and not on an individual basis. CFT’s experienced sports divers are well placed to lend appropriate assistance to a search and recovery operation. Search and recovery conditions are usually difficult, carried out in zero or poor visibility. Proximity to bridges and piers, particularly in urban areas, introduce additional hazards such as abandoned shopping trolleys, bicycles and other rubbish. Polluted waters poses risk of infection, so proper precautions and aftercare should be taken.
With this in mind, only qualified and trained up members participate in SAR incidents. Therefore, to be included on the national SAR register all those wishing to be available to be called upon must be current CFT club members and conduct two SAR training days per annum.
The course aims to introduce experienced sports divers to search and recovery skills. The course will enable trained divers to assist in search and recover operations. Such assistance will complement the existing professional and voluntary services.
Course content involves seven lectures and practical in-water simulation training. In-water training consists of the bad-visibility training, current or tidal conditions, sample search methods and underwater communication methods.
Over the weekend, Sheephaven SAC hosted the Search and Recovery training. A total of 20 candidates from the following sub aqua clubs took part: Donegal Bay SAC, Dundalk SAC, Leitrim SAC and Strabane SAC, and five candidates from Sheephaven SAC attended the training course.
On Friday, February 10th, all participants attended well explained lectures delivered by John Joe Rowland (National CFT Search & Recovery coordinator), Anne Boyle, Timmy Boyle and Damien Kelly.
On Saturday, February 11th, it was off to Portnablagh Pier on a very cold but sunny morning to take to the water to complete a number of in-water tasks. In one, a bottom line search was controlled on the surface by two snorkelers who guided divers along a stretch of water, taking them over obstacles such as buoys, etc. in poor-visibility water. Communication in this task was by use of rope signals which were discussed and demonstrated beforehand. The expertise of Willie Sheridan and Hugo McFadden was greatly appreciated by the rope handlers on this task. Other tasks were carried out throughout the rest of the day.
A big thank you to all who helped out on the Search and Recovery training over the weekend and congratulations to all the candidates!