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Local generosity led to high-tech new WCRR 4x4

January 24th, 2021 8:00 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

The charity’s new VW Amarok 4x4 ‘packs a punch’.

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THE ‘Spioraid Iarthar Chorcaí’ (spirit of West Cork) has shone once again with the recent launch of the new West Cork Rapid Response (WCRR) specially-adapted emergency 4x4.

Remarkably, this is the service’s third response emergency vehicle that has been entirely fundraised for by the people of West Cork.

The response vehicles have  been providing voluntary critical care support to the HSE National Ambulance Service since 2009.

Speaking to The Southern Star, emergency doctor Jason van der Velde said the latest vehicle is built on a 3-litre V6 turbo-diesel Volkswagen Amarok chassis, and it packs a punch. ‘This vehicle is capable of tackling the most demanding of West Cork boreens and farm fields, yet still be highly efficient at safely covering the challenges of answering emergency calls across vast distances, with its eight-speed automatic gearbox, 254 bhp engine, heavy duty shocks and disc brakes on all four wheels,’ said Dr Jason.

It’s also interesting to note that the rear storage compartment was designed by a team led by retired engineer Peter Cockeral from Drinagh.

‘The body was 3D printed in plastic by a company that manufactures fire tenders. Also based on experience from the last response vehicle, it contains a NATO spec humidifier, normally found in tanks, that extracts up to 22l of moisture a day, ensuring vital equipment is kept in top condition.’

‘Every aspect of the body was carefully thought-out to maximise storage space,’ he said. A new feature of the latest vehicle is the 360-degree HD video recording, including remote monitoring and tracking.

And to prevent battery failure, it has a bank of four auxiliary batteries with a computer controlled charging unit that intelligently trickle-charges when the vehicle is in motion, or plugged into the mains.

WCRR also endeavours to spend locally as far as possible and have received superb services from three of Cork’s top motor dealerships, including Keary’s of Cork (Toyota Hillux), Bandon Motors (Ford Ranger) and now Blackwater Motors.

Dr Jason added: ‘The colour scheme represents a new critical care standard in Ireland and is reserved for doctors (and in the future paramedics) providing a critical care level of support to the emergency services.’

During the ‘Jeep for Jason’ campaign in 2014 nearly double the amount of money needed had been raised and these additional funds were kept aside under the mindful fiscal stewardship of directors Dr Mairead MacConnaill and later Rhona Deane. ‘A formidable fundraising team spearheaded by Kate Crowley and Betty Hennessy ensures that the generosity of the West Cork public is constantly invested into the charity’s overall goal of supporting emergency services to respond voluntarily in their own community,’ said Dr Jason.

Over two years ago, a further fundraising campaign has led to a network of volunteers, drawn from existing emergency service personnel, and the charity now supports 23 responders in 10km radiuses from Belgooly to Eyeries.

‘These responders are supplied with defibrillation, monitoring and cardiac diagnostic equipment to enable them to manage emergencies in their community when off-duty.’

WCRR director Eamon Barry also decided to capitalise on the growing expertise of motivated professional responders within the team.

‘Over 350 gardaí and support personnel received Cardiac First Responder upskilling. Additional defibrillators have been secured for roll-out across the garda division with two already in garda community support vehicles.’

Dr Jason admits  the pandemic has been challenging but added WCRR chairman Aodh O’Donnell wanted to thank all of the directors for their dedication over the year, quietly keeping the wheels turning in the background. They include Cllr Declan Hurley, Donal Daly, Dena O’Donovan and Rosie O’Sullivan.

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