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Huge honour for Rapid Response founder Kearney

December 3rd, 2015 10:05 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Huge honour for  Rapid Response  founder Kearney Image
John Kearney has been given a major international honour (Photo: Emma Jervis)

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The Baltimore founder of West Cork Rapid Response has been awarded a major honour by an international organisation.

THE Baltimore founder of West Cork Rapid Response has been awarded a major honour by an international organisation.

 An international fellowship of social entrepreneurs has nominated John Kearney as their fourteenth ‘fellow’ in Ireland.

The Ashoka Ireland Fellowship Network chose to make him a fellow because of the incredible work he has done in founding the Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) – a national network of volunteer first responders, doctors and paramedics. 

ICRR deals with emergencies – by setting up local volunteer networks it capitalises on existing resources and has built a highly reactive network of experts that bring accident and emergency services out of the hospitals and directly to the people who need it.

John founded West Cork Rapid Response (WCRR) in 2007 and went on to establish the national organisation in 2012.

The service focuses on saving lives in the “golden hour” – the critical time when high-level early intervention can save a life. 

WCRR and the ICRR helps to provide these teams with all the required training and equipment, ensuring that they can deliver the best possible results for those in need.

In times of acute medical need such as cardiac arrest, John said: ‘70% of patients in Ireland die at home while waiting for care. In these incidences, the likelihood of death increases significantly with every passing minute.’ 

A native of Baltimore, John chased adventure from an early age. He served in the Irish navy, in the diving section, and trained and worked as a pilot before returning to Baltimore in 1992.

It was after a close friend became a paraplegic as a result of a diving accident that John decided to set up a team of volunteers to run an emergency intervention unit, the core of which subsequently became ICRR. 

John lives in Baltimore with his wife, Vivienne, and their children, Amy, John and Rory, and operates ICRR out of its head office in the old credit union building in North Street in Skibbereen.

In just one year, ICRR’s network of rapid response teams has deployed more than 100 doctors to assist nearly 500 patients, with an estimated two lives saved each month as a result of this service. 

ICRR is on track to triple its fleet of general practitioners to 300 over the next three years. 

What is truly amazing about the creation and expansion of the service is that the University College Dublin has devised a training programme that will scale the ICRR model to other specialised 999 services, including the police and the fire services, whose teams often arrive before ambulance services and are powerless to help the injured.

As a member of the Ashoka Ireland Fellowship Network, John will, with the support of international members of the Ashoka Fellowship Network, also be called upon to help develop similar services in other countries.

The announcement of John’s inclusion as a fellow in this prestigious network will be made in Dublin on Tuesday, December 2nd.

There’s a lot happening in John’s life right now: he has also been nominated for a Volunteer Ireland Award, as well as the Better Together award – the winners of which will be announced on December 2nd and 9th respectively.

These nominations have been made in recognition of the work John did – not just in relation to Irish Community Rapid Response – but his steadfast co-ordination of a successful search operation in Baltimore in July, when three people lost their lives after being swept out to sea.

‘It was a fantastic volunteer effort,’ he said, ‘the call went out and divers from all over the country arrived in Baltimore – having given up two and three days work at short notice – just so they could take part in a strategic, grid-like search of Eastern Hole Bay near the Beacon.

‘The search went on for 10 days, during which the wider West Cork community, but particularly the people of Baltimore, were generous in extending food, hospitality and accommodation to the 200 volunteer divers and support crew.’


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