BY HELEN RIDDELL
LIAM Hanley, a paramedic based in Castletownbere with the National Ambulance service has retired after 44 years of service. Castletownbere native Liam, first started with the ambulance service in 1977 to provide holiday cover.
‘I originally stood in for one of the lads who was going on holiday, and ended up staying and became a full-time paramedic,’ Liam said.
With many locations on the Beara Peninsula over a two-hour drive from Cork University Hospital (CUH), Liam noted that the distances involved can add to the fear factor for patients and one of the main requirements of the role was to reassure them.
‘The patient is already in a predicament with the fact that they need an ambulance, so you need to help them to stay calm, especially with the long journey ahead to get to hospital. Being from a small rural community, everyone I came across was known to me. Paramedics in a city could be with someone for as little as twenty minutes while they’re brought to hospital, whereas we could be two to three hours with them in the ambulance depending on where they are on the Beara Peninsula, so you need to have that personal touch and help people to stay calm.’
A presentation was made to Liam to mark his last day of service. Kevin O’Sullivan, Operations Manager for the National Ambulance Service South praised Liam for his forty-four years of impeccable service.
‘Liam has always been courteous and professional when dealing with patients, colleagues and all HSE staff. He knows every by-road and twist and turn in the roads in Beara, and would be known by everyone in the area. His calmness at putting people at ease at a time of distress, and the sight of a familiar face was of huge help to the patients ahead of a long journey to hospital,’ Kevin said.
Colleagues from the National Ambulance Service, and from St Joseph’s Hospital Castletownbere, including all past doctors and nurses, joined Liam’s family to line the hospital driveway and applaud Liam as a final send-off.
Liam said he has no immediate plans for retirement, ‘I have nothing planned just to take life easy and chill for a while.’