Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Volunteers sought for Newtownhamilton’s First Responders Scheme

Newtownhamilton is set to benefit from a vital lifeline in the form of a First Responder Group to assist the ambulance service.  The project, which emulates the Community and District First Responder Scheme which has been so successful since its inception in Crossmaglen three years ago, will see volunteers trained to offer assistance in certain medical emergencies, bridging the gap between an incident and the arrival of the ambulance service. 

First Responders deal  with emergencies such as heart attacks, strokes, choking/seizures and diabetic coma and are not  deployed to attend trauma calls or dangerous situations. In rural areas, the existence of such an initiative could mean the difference in life and death while a casualty awaits emergency medical help.

Newtown’s Community Association is embarking on a recruitment drive to encourage volunteers to become involved and help to bring the lifesaving initiative to the community.

Newtown Community Centre’s Niall Murray believes the scheme could prove critically important to the town.

“Newtown is a rural area so this sort of service is essential,”, he explained, adding that the Crossmaglen First Responders Group had actually approached the Newtown Community Association to recommend setting up a trained group of volunteers in the south Armagh town.

“It takes about half an hour for an ambulance to get to Newtownhamilton from Daisy Hill Hospital and that’s if they’re not busy,” said Niall.

“There’s a golden hour for those who have a stroke or heart attack so a service like this is very essential. That’s really why we are forming this group.”

“We are trying to get as many volunteers together as possible and we are going to hold a meeting with the ambulance service to get it up and running.  We would love to get as many people there as possible.”

The meeting will take place in Newtownhamilton Community Centre this Thursday 16th August at 7pm in the Community Centre.  Anyone over the age of 18 can join the First Responders Group and all training is provided.  Volunteers do not necessarily need to become First Responders as people are also needed to help with fundraising for the vital equipment and medical kits required for the team.  Thursday’s meeting will cover all aspects of the scheme, and discuss fundraising ideas to cover some of the costs involved.