Founder steps down
Chairperson, Joan McAdam of the parish’s First Responder movement has stepped down from the role. She was the founder of the Defibrillator Group which then took on the role of first responders, and was the first such community group established in this area.
For a time the local group also provided cover for Dundalk until the movement spread its wings and groups were set up over most of the county. Members are trained to respond to heart attack, stroke, choking and cardiac arrest incidents to provide comfort and aid until the arrival of the Ambulance Service and professional paramedics.
Initially a group led by Joan, including also retired honorary secretary, Valerie Hunt Duffy set about procuring life saving defibrillators to help in such emergencies, and providing training as well as recruiting those already trained and qualified in the use of defibrillators.
The Group managed to raise the necessary funds to purchase a handful of machines that were installed at strategic locations across the parish.
It is eight years in January since the Group held its first meeting, and three years later made the commitment to provide a First Responder Service.
The Group have continued on a largely full-time basis, providing 24 hour, seven day a week cover, through the dedication of local volunteers.
A Buddy System operates whereby responders are accompanied by another experienced person to go to the scene of a call out. Volunteers make themselves available for a period which suits their personal circumstances to be on standby in the event of an emergency and their services are needed to act as auxiliaries to the professional services.
They are provided with a special mobile phone and equipped with a mobile defibrillator to take to the scene, which they might need to administer or provided CPR.
The scheme has been accredited with saving life, and making a very valued contribution to help those unfortunate enough to suffer a cardiac problem.
The local group cover an area taking in Haggardstown and Blackrock and stretching from Xerox to Dromiskin and the townlands in between.
Since the formation of the group Joan has acted as chairperson or joint chairperson, and is happy to hand over the reins with an influx of keen young volunteers into the group to carry on the service. ‘It was hard work but it was rewarding’ she commented.
Her successor is Valarie Egan and Emily Magee has taken over as honorary secretary from Valerie-Hunt Duffy. The new officers have been involved in the service as responders. Joan is to continue her involvement in the group.
The call out rate appears to follow a peak and trough pattern, with earlier this year volunteers being busy from January to May.
Cllr. Maria Doyle and Brian McElroy, Blackrock Tidy Towns, with Kate Smyth, Award winner for Colourful Garden at the Beautiful Blackrock awards night held in The Clermont Arms.