Catriona McMahon and Kayla Cooley, Community Crisis Response Team, Limerick
Starting out with just a second hand phone and a Facebook page, Catriona and Kayla’s Community Crisis Response Team now operates every night of the year with a team of trained volunteers. They respond to calls from people who may have spotted someone in distress, from family or friends that have discovered a loved one is thinking about suicide, to people who call on their own behalf.
They have referred people to other organisations to receive professional counselling, to avoid being on long waiting lists that keep people waiting, often for months to see a counsellor. They are not only saving lives and supporting suicidal people, they also train the public on how to recognise signs of a suicidal person and how to help them. They give talks about their work and about suicide in different places such as colleges, churches, etc.
Friends and family have raised some funding through raffles and currently they operate from a kitchen table taking calls and answering messages. They drive their own cars and they vow they will be there for anyone who needs them 365 days a year.
Michael Cardiff, St John’s Ambulance – Ballyfermot Branch, Dublin
Michael has been a member of the St. John’s Ambulance Ballyfermot Division for twenty years. As part of his volunteer role as the divisional manager, he is responsible for the administrative and day to day running of the volunteer local service.
Not only is he responsible for recruiting new volunteers, his role also involves ensuring local volunteers are supported and mentored sharing his vast experience with them. He offers his volunteers the opportunity to develop themselves as individuals and encourages them to progress and achieve higher qualifications in Cardiac First Response, Emergency First Response and Emergency Medical Technician training, if they so wish.
He ensures the local branch follows an annual training program providing volunteers with interesting and interactive training sessions with guest speakers and instructors throughout the year. His role also involves communicating regularly with community and youth groups to ensure first aid is promoted locally in schools, clubs and places of employment.
He recently organised a citizen CPR initiative in the community and noticed a public defibrillator’s battery was dead and pads out of date. On discovering this he, with the support of his fellow volunteers, decided to organise for a new defibrillator to be placed on the main street which would be accessible to anyone who needed it and was trained to use it. He found a shop that was open from early morning to late at night and who were willing to allow it to be put on the wall of their shop for public use.
Susan O’Sullivan, St John’s Ambulance, Cork
Susan has been a member of St John’s Ambulance for circa 40 years and is currently the Training Officer with the Cork branch. She is heavily involved in training most Thursday evenings and in preparing candidates for competition. This is a very demanding role that may involve long 8 hour days and sometimes weekends. She has raised all her children to be volunteers in the organisation as well.
On the one hand while the Clinical Practice Guidelines set down by PHECC are set in stone, she shows her creativity in spotting hidden talents in people and drawing those talents out. She manages to draw the most and the best out of people. She is always taking the initiative to ensure volunteers are provided every opportunity to upskill and keep their qualifications in date. Everything from fundraising to holding interviews, ensuring forms are filled out and providing first aid cover.