SOS NI are bracing themselves to work alongside police and ambulance services on St Patrick’s Day, when celebrations can typically turn into life-threatening situations due to alcohol and drugs abuse. On 17 March, trained SOS NI volunteers and medical staff will operate from specially designed and equipped vehicles deploying satellite foot and mobile patrols to extended areas of need. The main bright yellow SOS NI Bus will be located at College Park East, near Queen’s University. SOS NI’s emergency number is 079 0150 5505.
Working closely with Queen’s University, the Belfast City Council and the PSNI, SOS NI’s paramedics and 12 volunteers split into teams of 6 will take shifts on the bus from 3pm to midnight. To ensure wider action, a further two SOS NI response minibuses will patrol the Belfast city centre and the Holylands area, and volunteers on foot will be deployed if required.
Joe Hyland, CEO of SOS NI, said: “SOS NI’s professional medical staff and experienced volunteers are now needed more than ever to provide first aid to students and other St Patrick’s revelers having abused alcohol and drugs or been victims of assault.
“But our role is not only a reactive one. We also help to prevent cases of threats of violence in the student areas and protect those who are vulnerable from being hurt or getting involved in any disruption.
“Our buses have been operational every weekend in sensitive areas for the past seven years, but on 17 March 2015, we will step up our offering to match the expected excesses that can lead to serious medical conditions and even deaths.”