'You can be diverted from a real call' - Limerick emergency teams blast hoax 999 caller

By David Raleigh

Emergency service workers and volunteers have blasted a person or persons behind a series of hoax 999 calls about people entering the River Shannon in Limerick city.

The latest in a string of hoax calls occurred at 12.11pm this Sunday afternoon.

Limerick City Fire Service were alerted to a report of a person entering the river at the Treaty Stone near Thomond Bridge.

File photo of Thomond Bridge. Pic: Kieran Clancy

Munster Regional Fire Control immediately mobilised three units of the fire service.

The fire service's specially trained river rescue SRTs (Swift Water Rescue Technicians) also sent their rapid response rescue boat Fireswift within four minutes of receiving the alert.

“The call was deemed to be a hoax call, several of which have been received in the past number of weeks,” said a reliable source.

“It's a disgrace,” they added.

Volunteers from Limerick Marine Search and Rescue Service also responded to the alert.

A source in the volunteer-run service said: “We have to come from our homes and you're trying to get to a call. Not only is it a disruption to your own life, but you are responding as quickly as you can, believing you are possibly going to save someone's life.”

"Then you discover it's a hoax call.

It's annoying in the sense that you can be diverted from a real call.

"I hope it doesn't mean that one day we’ll be diverted to a hoax call and someone who actually needs us goes under the water and drowns,” they added.

“There was another hoax call last Friday week. It seems to happen a lot on Fridays…maybe they like to get their kicks out of seeing us having to make our way through the Friday traffic.”

So far the caller or callers have not been traced.

“The problem is we are also putting our lives at risk by going onto the river responding to these hoax calls.

"We still have to give it everything, just in case. We treat every call the same.”

The source added: “These hoax calls are becoming too frequent. They died off for a while, but now they're coming back again.”

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