A suspected terrorist was ‘injured’ and airlifted to hospital after armed gardaí stormed a suspect vehicle carrying explosives yesterday.

The dramatic incident in Co Cork was part of a major inter-agency exercise staged as part of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Gathering which took place in Kinsale over the last two days.

The scenario marked the culmination of the two-day gathering of expert emergency service delegates from all over the world.

Up to 40 people from the HSE National Ambulance Service, the Defence Forces, the Gardaí, the Irish Naval Service, and the Irish Air Corp, backed by various voluntary emergency services, took part in the tactical emergency medical support exercise at James Fort.

Members of the armed Regional Support Unit were tasked to intercept a suspect vehicle which was carrying explosive material.

They had to deal with the initial threat before the scenario organisers simulated an explosion of the material in the vehicle, which injured one of the suspects.

The Defence Forces’ Explosive Ordnance Disposal squad were called in to make the vehicle safe, while paramedics were tasked to treat the injured suspect.

A suspected terrorist is airlifted to hospital after being ‘injured’ in the International Tactical Response exercise. Picture: David Keane
A suspected terrorist is airlifted to hospital after being ‘injured’ in the International Tactical Response exercise. Picture: David Keane

The Irish Air Corp’s Medevac 112 helicopter was then tasked to alert the suspect, under armed guard, to a medical facility.

The complex scenario was designed to test the ability of each of the agencies to respond to and work together in a co-ordinated way in difficult, pressurised and challenging circumstances.

“Such simulations always provide valuable learnings for each of the agencies and this will help us improve our interoperability to ensure that we can all better respond to real-life major emergency situations,” a spokesman for the exercise said.

Over 300 delegates, including emergency service personnel from all over Ireland, and from Canada, Australia, the US, UK and Poland, took part in the two-day conference, sharing their experiences in managing emergencies.

Among the topics they discussed were how to negotiate and manage mental health emergencies, care of the elderly and maritime medicine, as well as self-care for first responders.

Workshops were also held on diving and seaside emergencies.

EMS Gathering organiser and advanced paramedic Kieran Henry said such conferences, involving EMS experts from all over the world, are very important.

“This is a really important couple of days for us to learn from each other, inspire one another and to discuss really important areas that help us deliver better patient care,” he said.

“This year we have a special focus on our own health and wellbeing, which can be tested while dealing with emergencies and their aftermath.”

Gathering co-organiser, Conor Deasy, a consultant in emergency medicine at Cork University Hospital, and deputy medical director of the National Ambulance Service, said it was a privilege to bring together world-class leaders in emergency management from across the globe to Kinsale.

“The range and depth of topics covered will benefit each of us in working effectively together across agencies and disciplines to deliver optimal patient care,” he said.


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