West Cork's ‘12 Apostles' are rapid responders

February 10th, 2018 7:10 AM

By Brian Moore

Gráinne McCarthy, Mick Lynch, Ronan Archbold, Martin Haughney; back, from left: Tomás Allen, Garry Minihane, Martin Downey, Eamonn Barry and Dr Jason van der Velde.

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A PILOT project, pioneered by the West Cork Rapid Response (WCRR) charity, is not only helping to save lives, but is highlighting the incredible community spirit and selfless volunteerism of the people of West Cork.

Known as the ‘12 Apostles’, this new network of volunteer healthcare professionals, including paramedics and advanced paramedics, who hail from Skibbereen, Drimoleague, Belgooly, Ardfield, Reenascreena, Bandon, Coppeen, Bantry, Clonakilty and Timoleague, are now spread out across the region from Kinsale in the East to Kealkil in the West, and have already responded to eight emergencies, independent of the existing WCRR emergency vehicle and Dr van der Velde.

‘The 12 volunteers each operate within a 10-mile radius of his or her own home,’ Dr van der Velde said. ‘This means that we have voluntary emergency cover across a substantial geographical area. And each member is equipped with a €6,000 medical kit, which is a robust patient monitoring and defibrillation system.’

The WCCR charity, which was founded in 2009 to ensure a rapid emergency service for communities in West Cork, works in partnership with the HSE’s National Ambulance Service and since taking to the roads of West Cork, Dr van der Velde is credited with saving, on average, two lives every month. 

‘The evaluation phase of the project will be complete next June and we hope to assign and equip more volunteer responders across the network.’ Dr van der Velde said. ‘This system enables professionals who are free and who are able, to respond to a bad incident in the vicinity of their homes. By providing them with the life-saving equipment, that they would normally have available to them in the course of their work, we are enabling them to do this.’

The WCRR is fundraising to provide more volunteer responders with medical kits.

Each kit costs €6,000 so the fundraising committee is appealing to anyone in the West Cork area who can help out by organising an event, to please contact Betty Hennessy at 087 2414787 or email [email protected] as every euro donated goes directly to WCRR.

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