Community answers rallying call for new emergency response group

August 24, 2015

The soon to be implemented Crossmaglen and District Community First Responders group has received an unprecedented rise in donations in the wake of the recent publicising of the healthcare crisis in Crossmaglen.

The flagging up of concerns over frontline healthcare provision across the south Armagh area has helped to raise the profile of the initiative, with the community showing their support via an upsurge in donations and in the number of people coming forward to register as First Responder volunteers.

First Responders will provide a vital lifeline for the area, being dispatched to emergency calls throughout Crossmaglen, Culloville, Creggan, Glassdrummond, Silverbridge and Cullyhanna, to provide treatment to casualties as they await the arrival of appropriate emergency services.

In rural areas the existence of such an initiative could mean the difference between life and death while a casualty awaits emergency medical help. Given the inadequate ambulance response times throughout the district, the scheme is a much welcome development for health services in south Armagh.

In general, First Responders will deal with medical emergencies such as victims of heart attacks, strokes, choking, seizures and will not be deployed to attend trauma calls or dangerous situations.

During the recent public meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in health care in the area, representatives from the entirely self-funded First Responders group detailed their role in improving emergency services in the district and made an appeal for more volunteers, donations for the provision of emergency kit bags and equipment as well as the costs of volunteer training which is set to commence next month.

The community has since responded en masse showing its exceptional generosity with local businesses and individuals funding medical bags and defibrillators and making monetary donations towards volunteer training. More and more people have also come forward to register as volunteers, with the number now ready to undergo the first round of training in September standing at fifteen, and a further six interested in the second round of training which begins in October.

Recent contributions to the Crossmaglen and District Community First Responders have gone a long way to ensuring that volunteers will be fully equipped to attend all emergencies they attend.

Latest donations from Crossmaglen-based businesses include a defibrillator from Byrne Monumental and fully kitted medical bags from Carragher Oils and the Jim Hanratty School of Motoring as well as a donation of €1000 from Glenpac Meats. This brings the total number of defibrillators available for the First Responders to five and the number of fully kitted medical bags to eight.

Damien Martin, the man behind the local First Responders initiative told The Examiner he has been “just overwhelmed” with the support from local businesses and members of the local community so far.

“They have showed, like our volunteers, that they are determined that the people of the area get the help they need and deserve if it cannot be guaranteed by the Emergency Services,” he said.

“We have been inundated with support and greatly appreciate our community standing together.”

Appealing for continued support, Damien added, “Although we have received so much support so far, we are still in need of further assistance so if any businesses or individuals wish to donate they can contact me on 028 30868690 or via the group’s email address,”

With a second round of training scheduled for October anyone wishing to volunteer to become a First Responder can contact Damien or the group using the above details.  The cost of sponsoring volunteer training for the vital scheme is £100 each, and all donations are greatly appreciated.