A range of roles among first responders

Hairdressers, healthcare operatives, shop assistants, and a council worker are among 19 lifesavers attached to a first responder unit covering the east Cork and west Waterford region.

The voluntary emergency service graduates are involved with the Youghal Cardiac First Responder service which conferred qualification certificates on five trainees from Cork’s Blarney Street first responders at a ceremony in the Walter Raleigh Hotel.

The Youghal graduates, aged from 20 to 59, undertook a twice-weekly, exam-assessed comprehensive training programme to become proficient in cardiac first responder (CFR) and emergency first responder (EFR) techniques.

CFR training included the use of automated external defibrillator, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and choking release on adult, child, and infant, recovery position, aspirin administration, and fast assessment for suspected stroke.

EFR techniques included spinal injuries, cardiac conditions, trauma emergencies, cervical collar application, deployment of glyceryl trinitrate spray for severe chest pains, removal of a post-accident motor cycle helmet, and insertion of suppraglotic tube for better lung ventilation.

Personal stress management was also covered.

Scheme co-ordinator and paramedic Pat McCarthy said the region needs the first responder service due to the Youghal-based ambulance serving an area from west Waterford to Cork City. The service is on call 24/7, with an average maximum response time of six minutes.

The unit relies on community goodwill for funding, while the HSE provides insurance cover and professional counselling.

Youghal Credit Union and Walsh’s Pharmacy in the town supplied three defibrillators at a cost of €1,600 each.

Youghal GP and the service’s medical director Declan Matthews says his initial scepticism of first responder services changed after he assisted at a roadside accident. “It’s impossible for one person to do CPR for more than five minutes,” said Dr Matthews. “It is tough going, affects decision making, and comprises you doing other things simultaneously such as administering drugs. I learned a great lesson that day.”

Mr McCarthy, meanwhile, advises that emergency help should be sought by first dialling 112 or 999 before contacting the first responders.

Course trainees must be at least 18 years old and have their own transport.

Courses at the St Raphael’s Centre cost about €800, with payment methods arranged to suit. The next course begins on October 22. Details from 087 7408501 or www.facebook.com/YoughalCommunitySupportGroup 


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