On a clear and mild day, James O’Brien took a boat out to go fishing on Lough Corrib. When, 75 year old, James failed to return home by dark his wife called the Gardai concerned he may have got into difficulty on the lake.

Irish Red Cross volunteer lifeboat crew, Lough Corrib, Ireland

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The Gardai alerted the Coast Guard who immediately contacted the Irish Red Cross to ask their lifeboat crew to join the search for James. The volunteer lifeboat crew quickly joined the rescue operations, searching islands on the lake where James had planned to go fishing. The search produced no results. Concerns for James’ safety grew as temperatures fell below zero and the evening turned out to be one of the coldest nights of the year.

Enlisting the assistance of the Coast Guard helicopter, the Irish Red Cross lifeboat crew widened their search to other islands. But there was still no sign of James or his boat.

The helicopter’s heat-seeking device detected a heat signature, the lifeboat crew received the coordinates and raced to the area to investigate.

After a close range search James was found. He was well but very disorientated and hypothermic.
Doctors estimated that he would only have survived for another 45 minutes if he had not been found.

Following his ordeal, James said, “I was out fishing on Lough Corrib when my boats engine cut out. The sky turned from blue, to grey, to black and the weather got colder and colder. I tried to row but my hands froze as the temperature plummeted. All I could see around me was water. I felt alone and frightened. As the hours passed, I began to give up hope. Then I saw a light in the distance and heard a boat coming towards me.  I’ve never felt so relieved.”

May 13th – 19th is National Volunteer Week 2013, to celebrate the Irish Red Cross is sharing real life experiences from volunteers around the country and encouraging more people to get involved with their local Red Cross.

Irish Red Cross volunteers are involved in a range of community activities; including Youth Development, first aid training courses, therapeutic care, search and rescue and emergency response.

For more information about how you can get involved with the Irish Red Cross in your community, see www.redcross.ie or call 01 642 4600