Community first: Volunteer First Responders in Limerick trained to help neighbours

Maria Flannery

Reporter:

Maria Flannery

Email:

maria.flannery@limerickleader.ie

The Pallaskenry group: volunteers and representatives gathered in the community centre for the awarding of certificates

The Pallaskenry group: volunteers and representatives gathered in the community centre for the awarding of certificates

A GROUP of dedicated local volunteers in Pallaskenry have been giving up their time, many of them for up to 10 years, to respond to emergencies in their village.

The team of 20 Community First Responders are involved in the initiative in Pallaskenry, which they have proven is hugely valuable in the rural area. The responders can be called to patients in Pallaskenry or the surrounding townlands.

The volunteers were awarded last week after they underwent further training, which will allow them to handle an even wider range of symptoms.

The local responders are trained to deal with choking, respiratory or cardiac arrest in infants, children and adults. They are trained in using a defibrillator, if required, at the scene.

When an ambulance is being dispatched, a community first responder is signalled to attend the scene, where they can monitor the patient’s condition until the paramedics arrive to take over. The service can prove particularly useful when an ambulance is delayed or not immediately available, as the patient can be monitored by someone who has received training.

They are also able to help patients who are complaining of chest pain or presenting with stroke symptoms, explained Damien Gaumont, advanced paramedic with the National Ambulance Service.

“We have been doing this for 10 years, but we now have enhanced training in Pallaskenry for cardiac first response. If there is somebody in Pallaskenry with either cardiac arrest or choking, or now with the enhanced training, stroke or chest pains, we get dispatched by the National Ambulance Service automatically. It’s an automatic text from the ambulance service.

“It’s absolutely good for people living in rural areas, there’s loads of groups like us all over the country, and several in Limerick,” added Mr Gaumont, who coordinates the Pallaskenry team.

Chairperson of Pallaskenry Community Council, Michael O’Sullivan, congratulated the volunteers, locals of all ages, on their newest certificates.

Most Community First Responder groups have organised themselves to be on call 24/7.