Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

High praise for First Responders group

There was high praise for the Crossmaglen and District Community First Responders group, which was officially launched at an event in the Cross Square Hotel, Crossmaglen on Friday evening.  The event attracted a huge turnout of supporters and well wishers and was attended by many local councillors and political representatives who extended their congratulations to those behind the vital lifeline for rural south Armagh.

Extending her good wishes to those involved in the initiative, local SDLP Councillor, Geraldine Donnelly said: “I am delighted that a First Responders Group has been formed and launched in Crossmaglen and district.  The founders of the unit have shown the same public spirit as people like the late Eugene Donaghy who set up the Fire Fighters and the Community Association in Crossmaglen.

“The First Responders, led by Damien Martin, are a credit to our area.  They show the best qualities of our people in providing unstinting and unselfish service to help ensure that we have professional help available when a medical emergency occurs.

“It has been heartwarming to see how local businesses and individuals have thrown their weight behind their efforts.  Our local council, the Order of Malta, the ambulance service, and the Department of Social Development have all contributed to the setting up of the group – an excellent example of agencies working in close co-operation with the community.

“It was good to see such a good turnout for the launch with music and dance being provided by local young people,” she added

Speaking at the launch, Vice Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Gillian Fitzpatrick said she was delighted to see so many members of the local community turn out for the launch of the initiative, which is the first of its kind for the Newry, Mourne and Down area.

“I know other rural areas will be looking to Crossmaglen to see if they can follow suit,” she said.

“This part of south Armagh has always been well known for the willingness of the community to identify its own needs and take the lead in addressing them.”

The councillor paid tribute to Northern Ireland Ambulance Service who she said did “a marvellous job with the resources they have available, saving lives every day.”

“But with the rural nature of Northern Ireland those resources are spread over a very wide area and with the best will in the world it just isn’t possible for an ambulance to reach everywhere within 8 minutes.

“It is a great reassurance  for people in rural areas to know that there is someone locally, with a defibrillator and the relevant training, who can get to them quickly and support them until the ambulance arrives.

“Newry, Mourne and Down Council is delighted to have been asked to help support this project in its initial stages and to give what ongoing assistance we can.  In return, I am pleased that the First Responders will be taking part in our Emergency Planning Group, helping us to plan for those major emergencies that we hope will never take place.”

Ms Fitzpatrick went on to commend all the First Responder volunteers who have agreed to give up their time to carry out the important community role, extending her appreciation for their commitment and dedication.

Paying special tribute to the man behind the initiative, Damien Martin, the councillor added,

“This has been Damien’s brainchild from the start and I know that he has shown great determination in ensuring that we have progressed to this stage.

“On behalf of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council I would like to wish Crossmaglen and District First Responders every success in their endeavours and the hope that they won’t get called out too often.”