Islands get 10 first responders as new emergency guide launched

March 26th, 2023 9:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

The 10 volunteers are the first in the country to complete the course. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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A GROUP of 10 volunteers are the first in the country to complete an emergency first responder course which provides significant aid for West Cork island residents and visitors in times of medical emergency need.

And now a one-page document for residents and tourists, detailing what do in an emergency while on a local island, has been launched on Sherkin Island.

The West Cork islands – Sherkin, Cape Clear, Long, Heir, Whiddy, Bere and Dursey – are part of a national All-Ireland Islands HSE primary health programme. The West Cork islands have worked in partnership with Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH), HSE Cork South Community Work department and the emergency services to produce the information document on what do in an emergency.

The information is aimed at resident islanders, holiday home residents, tourists and visitors and ferry services. 

Last year, CKCH, HSE, National Ambulance Service, Coast Guard and RNLI supported a demonstration on what happens in an emergency on an island. Community volunteers trained as first responders and AED were purchased for the islands.

Head of primary care for CKCH Priscilla Lynch thanked the West Cork Islands Health Forum’s emergency sub group for all their work in building local resilience and emergency skills to deal with different types of medical situations. ‘The combination of enhanced first responders, AEDs on all the islands and a one-pager information card for all islanders/visitors is vital in times of a medical emergency, particularly cardiac arrest, chest pain, strokes and choking episodes,’ she said.

‘The newly-qualified enhanced community first responders play a critical role if there is an emergency to ensure a safer, faster response – using the combined efforts of Coast Guard, RNLI and ambulance. This will save lives and improve island health.’ She also thanked the 10 volunteers and trainers, Moneen Collins and Catherine O’Sullivan, for hosting the first training of this kind in Ireland. 

‘Coming to the aid of a person in trouble while the ambulance is en route, buys time and will save lives. You are helping to make the beautiful West Cork islands a safer and healthier place for all.

‘On the success of this programme, it is now envisaged that this initiative will be rolled out across the country, building resilience in all communities,’ she said.

Judith Gilbert, project officer with Comhar na nOilean said that building community resilience is key in order to improve Ireland’s out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates and the islands are no different in this regard. ‘Having trained volunteer community first responders is a lifeline for islanders. It’s great to have the backing of so many people to support island health,’ she said.

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