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Knitting to help save lives in Durrus

June 13th, 2016 7:15 AM

By Southern Star Team

Bridie Tobin, Liz Haddon (both from Durrus) and Joan Ford from the New Forest, UK, taking part in the Knitathon. (Photos: Andy Gibson)

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The sound of knitting needles echoed in this small West Cork village recently as the local community turned out to support the upkeep and upgrade of the area’s life-saving defibrillators, writes Brian Moore

A special Knitathon, or knitting marathon if you will, was held at the Philips’ Green Centre and the event raised over €1,400 for the Durrus Defibrillator Group.

‘We have organised events like this before and they were always a great success and this Knitathon was no exception,’ Karin O’Driscoll Treasurer of the Durrus Defibrillator Group told The Southern Star.

Up to 50 people turned out to to support the group and when the needles fell silent the volunteers had created a colourful multitude of finished pieces.

‘There were squares of all shapes, sizes and colours at the end of the event and one of our volunteers, Liz Hutton, took the all the pieces away to sew them all together into a blanket which, will be given for a raffle or something like that,’ Karin continued.

The community defibrillators have become a very visible and important part of the communities in and around Durrus.

‘The money raised is essential for the up-keep of the five defibrillators that we have in the area, and we want to thank all those who supported us and gave their time and work to ensure that should they ever need them the defibrillators will be there and ready for use. We would like to thank the Durrus Charity Shop and all the people who baked and helped with the teas and coffees. Everybody was really supportive and helpful and this was much appreciated,’ Karin said.

The Durrus Defibrillator Group was set up in 2009 in response to the proposed cutbacks to the local ambulance service.

‘Local vicar’s wife Amanda Willoughby and a few more of us got together when we heard that the emergency services were to be cut back. Living in a remote area and facing cut backs to the ambulance service we wanted to at least be able to respond ourselves first before the emergency service could be on the scene.’ Anne Gallagher one of the founding members of the group said.

Another member of the Durrus Defibrillator Group, Pearl O’Hara, had first hand experience of how vital the community defibrillator could be.

‘I had to use the defibrillator on my father. Unfortunately he didn’t make it but we have the comfort of knowing that, with the defibrillator, we did all we could before the ambulance got here,’ Pearl said.

There are now five defibrillators place strategically around the area. One each in Durrus village, at the GAA community field, Brahalish, Dunbeacon and the Ballycommane Rugby field.

‘As a group we also provide training for the community but anyone can operate a defibrillator as all the instructions are easy to follow and the units are very easy to use. The first response in an emergency situation such as somebody collapsing is vital. If compressions are started and the defibrillator is used then the chances of surviving a heart attack are greatly increased. Living here in this part of West Cork not only do you have to factor in the response time for an ambulance from Bantry, but also the fact that when your emergency occurs there may not be an ambulance available,’ another member of the group, Michael O’Mahony said.

Michael has over 30 years experience as a first responder with the ambulance service in Cork City.

‘The first seven minutes are vital in a heart attack situation. After all, it would take an ambulance up to 15 minutes to get from Bantry General Hospital to this area if they were available to respond immediately when the call comes in. Training is vital and I would like to see more schools getting involved, there have been many cases of young people saving members of their family having had training at schools or at their sports clubs,’ Michael said.

With this in mind, the next Durrus Defibrillator Group’s training session will take place in the Phillips’ Green hall in the village on Friday May 13 at 6pm.

‘The training takes about four hours and we have spaces for 18 people. The cost is €10 and you will be certified and qualified at the end of the evening. This could mean the difference between life and death for a member of your family or a friend or neighbour and I would encourage anyone who is interested to come along on the night,’ Anne Gallagher concluded.  

  ‘Once again we want to thank everybody, the knitters, helpers, the community council and all those who turned out to help and support the Knitathon.

‘It was a great night with lots of fun, spot prizes and raffles. The money will go to ensure that the defibrillators are always ready for use should they be needed,’ Karin O’Driscoll said.

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