Northern Ireland Search and Rescue

Search and rescue (SAR) is the search for, and provision of aid to, people who are in distress or imminent danger.

Co-ordination of land and inland water rescue is devolved to Northern Ireland, with search and rescue policy the responsibility of the Department of Justice and co-ordination of land and inland water search and rescue operations falling to PSNI.

 The NISAR Policy Group focuses on strategic level issues, whilst the Practitioners Group deals with the operational aspects of search and rescue provision. The Practitioners group has responsibility for advising the NI SAR Policy Group on all operational SAR issues.

Representatives from the statutory and voluntary organisations set out below sit on the Practitioners Group.

Annual Reports

Search and Rescue Practitioners

A number of statutory agencies are involved in Search and Rescue:

These agencies work, in Northern Ireland, with the following voluntary agencies

Community Rescue Service

The CRS are a voluntary search and rescue organisation who provide the primary response on behalf of the police in searching for high risk missing people across Northern Ireland in the lowland environment. As a full member of the Association of Lowland Search and Rescue (ALSAR) all of their volunteers are trained and accredited to national standards for their roles. They provide their service in urban and rural locations and on inland waters except where that service is provided by SAR colleagues (River Foyle, Lough Neagh, Lough Erne).

Further information can be found on Community Rescue Service Facebook and Twitter.

Foyle Search and Rescue

Foyle Search and Rescue is a registered, voluntary based charity, operating in Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland. They operate a Suicide Prevention and Rescue Service on and around the river, one of the coldest, fastest flowing rivers in Europe. Foyle Search and Rescue’s sole aim is the preservation of life in and around the river Foyle.

Irish Cave Rescue Organisation

The Irish Cave Rescue Organisation (ICRO), is a national voluntary body which co-ordinates and manages cave rescue operations throughout Ireland. Working in co-operation with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and An Garda Siochana it comprises of a core team of 50 highly skilled members and a larger general membership who can be called upon to assist in the event of accidents in caves, potholes and abandoned mines. Whether people or animals, day or night, ICRO personnel are there to help.

Lagan Search and Rescue

Lagan Search & Rescue (LSAR) is an acute water rescue charity which is centred in Belfast. LSAR provides an independent lifeboat service for the seaward River Lagan, Belfast Harbour and the estuarial waters of Belfast Lough. Our charity also provides a dedicated Flood Response Team, with all blue-light operations supported by our own Quayside Response Team, Rescue Swimmer Corps, Medical Response Team and Kayak Rescue Corps. Lagan Search & Rescue provides this free of cost service, 24/7, 365 to help make Belfast a safer place for all.

Lough Neagh Rescue

Lough Neagh Rescue provides an independent voluntary Search and Rescue service on Western Europe’s largest shallow lake, being over 152 Sq miles of water expanse. Our highly skilled volunteers provide a professional 24/7 Powerboat and Flood Response coverage of the Lough and all its major tributaries. Presently, they operate 3 lifeboat stations positioned strategically on the riparian shores of Lough Neagh, namely at Kinnego Marina, the Battery Harbour , Ardboe and at Antrim Marina.

As a voluntary and self administered charity all received funds go directly to support their charitable purposes.

Mourne Mountain Rescue

Established in 1962 and composed entirely of volunteers the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team are the longest established Mountain Rescue Team on the island of Ireland.

Based in Newcastle Co. Down the team provide a 24/7 Search and Rescue response service to the outdoor and local community in the Mournes and beyond.

North West Mountain Rescue

North West Mountain Rescue Team was set up in 1980 in Derry City, to provide a volunteer Search and Rescue Service for the North West area of Northern Ireland. Today, we have over 50 volunteers, men and women of all ages and from every walk of life, providing an expert 24-hour, 365 days of the year call-out Search, Rescue and Recovery Service, at the request of the PSNI, across all of Northern Ireland in 3 sections – East, West and Central, based in Ballymena, Enniskillen and Magherafelt respectively.

Royal National Lifeboat Institution

The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea, They provide, on call, a 24-hour lifeboat search and rescue service around the UK and Ireland, and a seasonal lifeguard service. They operate ten lifeboat stations and patrol on ten beaches within Northern Ireland. With our lifeboats, lifeguards, safety advice and flood rescue, they are committed to saving lives.

Search and Rescue Dogs Association Ireland North (SARDA IN)

The primary aim of the Association is to assist in the search and rescue of persons missing or in difficulties in inhospitable terrain and open country, collapsed structures or watercourses and to promote the use of search dogs.

Sky Watch

Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol is an airborne observation charity using both manned and unmanned aircraft and helicopters.

Sky Watch carries out air searches for missing and vulnerable people at the request of PSNI and HMCG along with other voluntary agencies.  We also assist the NI Fire & Rescue Service by attending wild-land fires (forest and gorse), where property, wildlife and the environment are under threat.  During flooding incidents we carry out damage assessment and assist in the rescue operation by monitoring flooded areas of countryside from the air.


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