Fresh appeal issued as life-saving equipment tampered with again

A LOCAL rescue service is again reminding people of the potentially fatal consequences of misusing life-saving rings.

The Community Rescue Service (CRS) said vandals are continuing to target the life-saving safety equipment despite repeated appeals to the public to leave the devices alone.

At the weekend a life-ring was retrieved from undergrowth at the River Mourne in Sion Mills, while a Balcan Emergency Life Line (BELL) also went missing from the Canal Towpath in Ballymagorry.

Speaking of the incidents, a CSR spokesperson said: "Please get the message...Safety equipment was interfered with in Sion and Strabane.

"Sion Mills Community Forum (Andy Patton) retrieved and returned the one in Sion to the Community Rescue Service and for which we are deeply appreciative."

Despite an extensive search, the Balcan device which comprises of a bright orange or yellow plastic capsule, which contains a specially wound cop of buoyant, high quality braided polypropylene line, was unable to be located.

It has since been replaced at a cost to the CSR, which is charitable organisation.

"These items are expensive however in terms of needing them in a time of need they are invaluable," the spokesperson added.

"Please wise up before you find yourself in serious bother never mind costing someone their life."

Meanwhile, if anyone comes across the missing Balcan, they are asked to contact the organisation.

Local rescue services have previously warned that the equipment is being routinely targeted and damaged - sometimes beyond use.

Lifebelts are regularly being thrown into the river with rescue service volunteers then required to put their own lives at risk in a bid to retrieve the items.

Sion Mills community worker, Andy Patton, said the perpetrators must think of the potential consequences of their actions.

"Sion Mills Neighbourhood Watch retrieved a life ring from the undergrowth at the River Mourne," he explained.

"An alert good citizen seen it and reported it to ourselves.

"To those who perpetrated this act, we ask you to think. Think of someone needing it to save a life at the river. Maybe it even could be someone related to you, now how would you feel?"

Police have also warned that interference with the equipment constitutes a criminal offence and have reiterated that it takes the deliberate interference with life-saving devices seriously.

It too is urging people to refrain from damaging the equipment.

"These are a vital piece of life-saving equipment and should not be removed unless for an emergency," a spokesperson said.

"Please contact police if you have seen anyone removing these life rings or tampering with them."

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