Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Volunteers sought to establish First Responders scheme in Crossmaglen

A public meeting is to be held in Crossmaglen Community Centre this Thursday 5th March at 7:45pm to gather community support for the introduction of a First Responders Scheme in the town.

First Responders are trained to offer assistance to a casualty, bridging the gap between an incident and the arrival of appropriate emergency services.  In rural areas, such as Crossmaglen, the existence of such a scheme could mean the difference in life and death while a casualty awaits emergency medical help.

The idea of a First Responders Scheme is the brainchild of local man, Damien Martin, supported by and in partnership with Crossmaglen Community Association.

Damien first came up with the idea while undertaking a course in Emergency Medical Technology in Dublin and is keen to see it become a reality in his hometown.

In a bid to get the project off the ground, volunteers from the local community who are willing to undergo training and become involved in this initiative are now being sought.

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

Describing the importance of such a service, Damien said: “In the event of a person suffering a heart attack or stroke, arrival of medical help within the first eight minutes is critical.  At the minute, this does not happen within our local community.  Recognising early warning signs and administering basic first aid in such situations is crucial.”

Several First Responder schemes currently operate around the North, though as yet there are none in the Newry and Mourne region.  The scheme is specifically aimed at rural communities where emergency response times are often longer than accepted.

A wide range of people are needed to make the scheme viable and basic requirements are that volunteers are over 18, have a licence and are insured.

“First Responder Schemes require a significant commitment on the part of the volunteers. This should not be underestimated – members of the scheme will be on duty  either at all times or at times specified in agreement with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS).  Consequently any proposed First Responder Scheme should have enough volunteers to maintain cover without over-burdening individuals,” Damien explained.

The First Responders scheme in partnership with Crossmaglen Community Association will be a charity affiliated with the Order of Malta, thus keeping setting up and running costs to a minimum and ensuring all First Responder Volunteers are trained to the highest standard.

Representatives from community, voluntary and sporting groups, interested individuals and any other appropriate agency are being encouraged to attend the upcoming meeting where Ambulance Service and Order of Malta Personnel will be on hand to offer advice and answer any queries.

If you require further information or would like to help fundraise or sponsor essential kit, or want to help out in any way,  come along to Crossmaglen Community Centre this Thursday March 5th 2015 at 7:45pm or contact the Crossmaglen Area First Responders aia Facebook @