Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Newtownhamilton First Responders group poised to go live

More than a year after the idea was first mooted at a community public meeting, the Community First Responders Scheme in Newtownhamilton will go live next weekend, with volunteers on hand around the clock to provide urgent treatment in the initial stages of an emergency.

The group’s launch and information night will take place in Newtownhamilton Community Centre on Tuesday 10th September at 7.30pm and the scheme will go live a few hours later at midnight.

Having undergone extensive training, the eight newly recruited First Responders will be on call to cover a five-mile radius of the town.  When required they will be dispatched by the Ambulance Service (NIAS) control centre to attend medical emergencies and provide treatment to casualties until the arrival of the appropriate emergency services.

Niall Murray is the Secretary of Newtownhamilton and District First Responders and is one of its volunteers.  He expressed his delight that the life-saving initiative is now available in the area.

“It will mean services will be at somebody quicker.  The ambulance will still be coming but with those vital minutes, somebody’s life could be saved,” he said.

Niall insists there is a definite need for the First Responders scheme in rural areas like Newtownhamilton, stating it can take up to an hour for an ambulance to arrive.

“It takes about half an hour for an ambulance to get to Newtownhamilton from Daisy Hill and that’s if they’re not busy.  There’s a ‘golden hour’ for those who have a stroke or a heart attack so a service like this is very essential.”

First Responders are called to assist in a number of emergency situations – like cardiac, stroke, diabetic coma and choking – and are provided with the equipment needed for initial treatment, which includes a defibrillator.

The equipment and training was funding with the assistance of donations from the public and local businesses, as well as a grant from the National Lottery Fund.

“We have received a lot of support from the Crossmaglen First Responders,” Niall added.

Everyone is welcome to attend the launch night next Tuesday 10th September at 7.30 in Newtownhamilton Community Centre.