Safety and Emergency Services

Colm O’Byrne, Limerick Suicide Watch, Limerick

Colm has been part of this very successful suicide prevention group for a number of years now. He, like many of the founding members of Limerick Suicide Watch had been patrolling the river well in advance of 2016 when the group was rebranded to its current format. Limerick Suicide Watch patrol the riverside and bridges in Limerick late at night looking for people in distress or contemplating suicide. Patrols are done both with teams on foot and on bikes and ideally LSW have 8 members out on any given night.

Colm was elected chairman of the group and has grown the number of volunteers (heading towards 80) and at the same time escalated the awareness programme regarding suicide & mental health. Under Colm’s watch the group have launched an app which is available to the people of Limerick outlining the many mental health services available. Colm in his role as Chairperson has overall responsibility to ensure the safety of the members and the people the group come in contact with. All members are required to undergo an ASIST course (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training). The organisation also trains all members in First aid, Defibrillator, CPR, Child protection, Manual handling along with a range of other courses. All members are then encouraged to bring these skills into their workplace.

Colm is a patrol member himself and at the same time he manages the patrol roster which this year alone has resulted in nearly 4500 volunteer hours. The 5 year plan in place had a target of 5000 volunteer hours by the end of December and is well on track to be achieved. The group is busy and Colm’s ambition is to increase the awareness around positive mental health. Hopefully this in conjunction with other services will increase the numbers talking and reduce the numbers that die by suicide.

David Byrne, St John Ambulance, Kildare

David is one of the most dedicated members in St John Ambulance. He works for a private ambulance company as well where he works shifts that sometimes last thirteen or fourteen hours. After working hard all week, David will still show up for duties and training with a smile on his face and a cup of coffee in his hand. He puts 100% into everything he does and he is completely reliable, David has shown this dedication since he first joined the organisation over thirty years ago. David will put in at least one thousand hours of volunteering a year in addition to his fundraising efforts. An example of these efforts was raising €65,000 to purchase a new ambulance and the first automatic chest compressor for St John Ambulance.

Aside from treating countless patients, giving many cardiac arrest patients a second chance at life, and putting in countless hours of volunteering, David gets along well with everyone. He encourages and helps every member to reach their full potential. He treats everyone equally and with the same amount of respect regardless of rank or amount of years served. He is an asset to the team.

He is passionate about promoting a positive working environment, where everyone can get the job done professionally but still have fun. David is also involved in training the public and members all the way up to Emergency First Responder level. He also helped to develop some of the courses within the organisation.

Nancy White, Lorrha Community Responder Group, Tipperary

Nancy single handedly brought together a group of volunteers and set up the Lorrha Community Responder Group.  LCRG is dispatched to medical emergencies by the National Ambulance Service when certain 999 calls are made within the region that it covers.  Not only did she take on the mountain of paperwork involved, but has organised an incredible number of CPR/AED training sessions across the area, and has attended as many emergency dispatches from the National Ambulance Service as any other Responder in the group.  These incidents have included strokes, chest pains and cardiac arrests.

She also gives an incredible amount of time to other groups, including Active Retirement Ireland and Scéal Community Enterprise in Lorrha. Most recently she has been helping to organise a huge fundraising concert in Birr that will benefit six different charities and good causes in the area.

Under Nancy’s leadership, 5 new defibrillators have been acquired for the area and the Group has already responded to over 30 emergency calls under the direction of the National Ambulance Service. This group now covers thousands of people across Lorrha, Portumna, Terryglass, Rathcabbin and Aglish.  Hundreds more people now possess the basic skills needed to perform CPR and use an AED on someone who has become a victim of cardiac arrest thanks to Nancy and the group.