First responder bid after tragedy in Cork

A drowning in the river Lee has inspired a renewed drive to establish a volunteer emergency-response service in a Cork town.

Former retained fire- fighter, Simon Potter, 35, is spearheading the drive to set up a community first responder (CFR) scheme in Ballincollig.

“The fact that I had to wait for an hour after calling for an ambulance recently, and the drowning of that man in Ballincollig Regional Park last week, has inspired me to make this happen. Something needs to be done. It will take a while but it is achievable,” Mr Potter said.

CFR schemes work with the National Ambulance Service as first-responders to potentially life-threatening cardiac and choking events. A network of local volunteers, equipped with automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) and trained in CPR and oxygen therapy, are paged to emergencies at the same time as ambulances. They often arrive first.

A man, 45, died last week while swimming in the river Lee in Ballincollig Regional Park. Bystanders performed CPR while waiting for an ambulance. The HSE said a 999 call was received at 7.04pm and the ambulance arrived at 7.20pm.

Mr Potter, who is trained in advanced cardiac responder techniques and who has volunteered with the Irish Red Cross, said: “If a first responder had been dispatched with an automatic external defibrillator, that man’s life may have been saved.”

A 45-volunteer strong CFR scheme was launched in nearby Blarney last October after work by locals Kate Durrant and Deborah Lynch, a critical care nurse at CUH. It has responded to some 20 incidents within its 5km on-call radius. As well as their own mobile AED, its members have access to five others — at the tourist office, GAA club, Blarney Woolen Mills, at Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál, and at Waterloo Inn.

Mr Potter urged anyone who would like to help set up a CFR in Ballincollig to contact him through the group’s Facebook page, Ballincollig First Responder Scheme, or by emailing cfrbcollig@ gmail.com.

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