Civil Defence: The hidden heroes behind Irish searches

The Civil Defence is a volunteer based organisation which supports the front line emergency services such as An Garda Síochána in times of emergency.

The organisation’s volunteers are trained to a national level in various disciplines such as First Aid, Auxiliary Fire Service, Radiation Monitoring, Welfare and Communications, with one of their major roles being that of Search and Rescue.

The wider public would probably be surprised at the importance of the Civil Defence’s involvement in assisting An Garda Síochána in conducting search operations throughout the country. 

Stephen Hall, who is responsible for ensuring effective training standards for CD memebers, explained that due to the high standard of training required at a national level and their knowledge of how to handle evidence, CD volunteers are now a key asset for the Gardai.

“In a situation such as a missing person, the guards would be called in the first instance.

They would look for assistance with Civil Defence, primarily because we can provide numbers and we can also provide well trained personnel,” Mr Hall said.

“Having Civil Defence there, it is that you have people that are trained but you also have the leadership then, or the control of the Civil Defence Officer so there’s discipline within the Civil Defence volunteers,” he continued.

He stressed the importance of deploying teams of trained personnel who have knowledge in handling potential evidence and who will not tamper with what they find whilst searching.

“It’s also important from our own point of view, and it’s something we’ve learned in exercises with the guards, that you don’t tamper with evidence, that if you see something that may look like a piece of evidence, you radio that in or you record it and report to the guards, you don’t pick it up and come back and say look what I found, which an untrained person could easily do,” Mr Hall said.

For more information on the Civil Defence visit their website here.

* This story and video were developed as part of an ongoing collaboration between the Irish Examiner and the Univeristy of Limerick.

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