Award nomination a first for local CFR volunteers

October 3, 2016

The Crossmaglen District and Community First Responders (CFR) have become the first group from Northern Ireland ever to be nominated in a prestigious UK awards competition, which celebrates organisations, employers and individuals who invest in creating “Heart Safe” environments.  Representatives from the local First Responders team will travel to Manchester for the glittering awards ceremony this Friday 7th October.

A Heart Safe environment is one where life-saving equipment, a defibrillator and training are provided for staff or customers so that, should a sudden cardiac arrest occur, people are fully prepared to perform resuscitation and life support immediately. The Heart Safe Awards has received over 500 nominations for organisations of all types and sizes across the UK, with over 60 businesses and individuals recognised in 13 different categories.

The commitment and dedication of the Crossmaglen First Responders, ordinary men and women who are trained to respond to urgent medical situations to provide treatment to casualties while awaiting the arrival of appropriate emergency services, has been heralded as inspirational since the group first launched in November last year.  In rural and isolated areas such as Crossmaglen and the surrounding district, the existence of such an initiative can mean the difference between life and death while a casualty awaits emergency medical help and, given the often inadequate ambulance response times throughout the area, the scheme has received resounding support from the local community and political representatives.

Speaking to The Examiner about the team’s nomination for Community Responder Scheme of the year in the upcoming awards, Crossmaglen First Responders Co-ordinator, Damien Martin said,

“We look forward to hopefully bringing back a little bit of recognition for the people of the area and  to show the rest of the UK that there is more to Crossmaglen and its community than what has been generated in the media over the last 30 years.

“It is an honour to represent Northern Ireland in the prestigious awards on the night, and even more of an honour to have Newry, Mourne and Down District council represented by having the Chairperson in attendance.

“We would like to sincerely thank each volunteer First responder in for their dedication to the community over the last 12 months, without each of them we would not be able to provide the service to our area and to every member of the community who has donated in any small way to ensure that we are able to continue to do what we do to ensure the community of the area get that little bit of extra help whilst awaiting paramedic assistance.”

Council Chairperson, Gillian Fitzpatrick, said she is delighted that the Crossmaglen First Responders have been nominated for their work.

“The hard work and dedication of the First Responders, men and women who give up their time to help those in their community when they are most in need, is outstanding,” she told The Examiner.

“So many have benefited from the Crossmaglen First Responders since it first came into being. The first public defibrillator was indeed dedicated to my much loved and admired grandmother, Crossmaglen lady, Molly Fitzpatrick (nee Clarke), so I am just delighted their work is recognised in this way.

“The people of Crossmaglen and surrounding areas are the winners as this service was a much needed one locally and to have it operate as effectively as it does is testament to the fantastic team of volunteers involved. I wish them every success at the awards ceremony.”