Volunteer Ireland
Connecting Communities Through Volunteering

Safety and Emergency Services Awardees 2020

We are so proud to announce this years winners in the Safety and Emergency Services Category. This year we are celebrating three outstanding volunteers in each category.

Read each of their inspiring stories below.

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Alec Fitzmaurice, David McGrath and Fergal McGrath, RNLI, Waterford

Alec, David, and Fergal all volunteer together with the RNLI in Tramore, County Waterford. Earlier this year, they were called out to a rescue and recovered a man in his 50s who was floating in the water. His core temperature was 26° and he had been unconscious for quite a time.

They pulled him from the water and commenced CPR resuscitation in the rescue boat. He was transferred to Waterford University Hospital and recovered in the intensive care unit.

This is a great achievement as patients such as this rarely survive. With such a core temperature, many would not have continued CPR but their remarkable effort led to the man’s full recovery.

Arthur and Deborah Carr, Claddagh Watch Patrol, Galway

Husband and wife, Arthur and Deoborah Carr, are the Chairperson and Secretary of Claddagh Watch Patrol in Galway. The couple felt compelled to form the patrol when learning of the number of deaths on the waterways of Galway City over the space of just a few days in 2018. Together they are responsible for the recruitment of approximately 80 volunteers along with their training, Garda vetting and all of the day-to-day timetabling necessary for the volunteers to be at hand for the people of Galway. Not only this, but they lead from the front by volunteering more than anyone else in all weather conditions all through the year. The interventions that have occurred in Galway city have been noticed by services as diverse as An Gardai, the RNLI, Galway City Council, and the Fire Brigade.

Not a week goes by where they aren’t both on the bridges of Galway in between their behind the scenes efforts which have resulted in securing donations of vital equipment, a premises, thousands of euros in charitable donations as well as the essential task of mobilizing a group of volunteers to watch over the waterways of Galway four times a week, even during the COVID-19 lockdown.

If that was not enough, Arthur also mans a local mental health support line, Galway East Life Support, which he does 24/7.

John Fitzgerald, National Ambulance Service, Wicklow

A Community First Responder (CFR) volunteer for over 20 years in his native County Wicklow, John epitomises everything that is good about community volunteers. Working on a local level and witnessing the positivity of his and his colleagues’ work, John decided to make their learning known on a national level and to support other likeminded volunteers wherever possible. John set about developing a national representative organisation ‘CFR Ireland’ to increase awareness of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), use of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and work closely with the National Ambulance Service to increase the number of CFR Groups across Ireland. Progressing with this view, John travelled the length and breadth of the country meeting community groups, assisting with training programs and acting as a liaison for new groups, all in a voluntary capacity.

A very successful project undertaken by this organisation on an annual basis is the National CFR Conference ‘Respond’. This conference offers a tremendous networking opportunity for community volunteers across the country and is established by an appointed committee under John’s direction. This annual event is very well attended every year and has proven to be immensely helpful in supporting the aims of CFR group development. John’s vision and actions have undoubtedly led to lives being saved across Ireland.

When not operating in his CFR capacity, chairperson capacity with CFR Ireland or working, John also volunteers his time to train and mentor budding young rugby players with Naas RFC in County Kildare.