Civil defence cover at gigs resolved until end of next summer

Civil defence cover at gigs resolved until end of next summer

Fears that 600 music and cultural festivals could have been cancelled next summer due to serious concerns that on-site emergency medical care will no longer be available have finally been resolved after a year of delays.

The Irish Examiner understands the Government will today confirm that the 3,500-person strong Civil Defence medical unit will be given the green light to continue providing vital care until the end of next summer after an update to its rules.

It emerged earlier this year that the Civil Defence would no longer be able to provide emergency care at festivals.

After receiving an extension to its existing licence last autumn, officials confirmed at the start of summer that the licence to provide emergency care was due to run out in July.

While the group was given a further extension until the end of this month in a bid to avoid the havoc that would be caused by removing the availability of the medical support, it was unclear what would happen after the end of August.

However, after in-depth talks between the Department of Defence, local authorities, pre-hospital emergency care services and festival management in recent weeks, the Government is expected to confirm today that the licence will now be extended for a further 12 months.

Junior minister for defence Paul Kehoe said: "I am very conscious that Civil Defence volunteers have been anxious about this issue, and I would like to thank them for their patience. I wish to assure them that with the licence issue now resolved, the organisation can continue to deliver the professional level of emergency medical service that it is renowned for."

While the Order of Malta and St John ambulance services generally provide emergency care at larger festivals, smaller events across the country rely on the State-run Civil Defence - so if the service was not available they could be forced to close.

It is anticipated that the decision to extend the Civil Defence licence for another 12 months means that at least 600 music and cultural festivals will now be able to plan for their events next summer without the risk of surging extra costs.

The availability of first aid and emergency care services at Irish festivals has gained significant attention in recent months due to a number of tragedies involving young people.

The latest case occurred last month after 19-year-old Tipperary man Jack Downey died after he was believed to have taken a substance at the Indiependence music festival in Mitchelstown, Co Cork. The former pupil of High School CBS in Clonmel had just completed first-year at Cork Institute of Technology, and an avid GAA player with Clonmel Og GAA club.

The 3,500-strong Civil Defence emergency medical service was involved in 2,795 individual cases last year.

The Civil Defence unit is made up of 2,000 cardiac first responders, 1,000 first aid responders, 500 emergency first responders and 50 paramedics who specialise in emergency care.

Medical services at music and cultural festivals are considered a key requirement by insurers and predominantly cater for injuries and drug, first aid, dehydration and other issues.

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