Wicklow People (Arklow) - - FRONT PAGE - By DEB­O­RAH COLE­MAN

ARK­LOW Com­mu­nity First Re­spon­ders are grow­ing ev­ery year and 2017 was one of the busiest yet for the vol­un­tary group which was ac­ti­vated by the Na­tional Am­bu­lance Ser­vice 253 times in 12 months.

While the year got off to an un­for­tu­nate start with an in­ci­dent of van­dal­ism that hit the na­tional head­lines, it soon took a turn for the bet­ter with lots of great work done in the com­mu­nity, train­ing and of course call-outs to pa­tients in need.

‘2017 was one of our busiest, pro­duc­tive and most event­ful years in the group’s history,’ said John Sum­mers of Ark­low Com­mu­nity First Re­spon­ders.

‘The year got off to an un­pleas­ant start with the to­tal de­struc­tion of a pub­lic ac­cess de­fib­ril­la­tor at 7-Eleven by a trio of mind­less thugs. How­ever, the Ark­low com­mu­nity showed its true re­silience and spirit by very quickly re­plac­ing it within a mat­ter of days through do­na­tions made to Billy Nolan in the 7-Eleven store.’

‘The rest of the year saw our group grow and ex­panded fur­ther. We de­cided to op­er­ate as a stand alone CFR group un­der the guid­ance of the Na­tional Am­bu­lance Ser­vice alone; we ex­panded our vol­un­teer com­mu­nity first re­spon­der num­bers from 12 to 20 and also added an­other CPR in­struc­tor, eas­ing the work load on our ex­ist­ing mem­bers in our aim of pro­vid­ing the max­i­mum vol­un­tary cover pos­si­ble for our com­mu­nity,’ he said. Dur­ing the year there was good news for the wider com­mu­nity when Ark­low’s Pub­lic Ac­cess De­fib­ril­la­tor (PAD) num­bers also in­creased from four to six.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Sum­mers, there were many high­lights through­out 2017.

‘We had the priv­i­lege of act­ing as Grand Mar­shals at the St. Pa­trick’s Day Pa­rade; we held a pub­lic ac­cess de­fib­ril­la­tor in­for­ma­tion even­ing and had the plea­sure of per­form­ing CPR demon­stra­tions for sports clubs, scout troops, com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions and at our mar­itime and Seabreeze fes­ti­vals.

‘As our num­bers grew we in­vested in the lat­est train­ing equip­ment and uni­forms for all our mem­bers. We added two new kit bags to our weekly ros­ter each con­tain­ing its own de­fib­ril­la­tor and other es­sen­tial life sav­ing equip­ment,’ he said.

Mr Sum­mers said that all of these ad­vance­ments would not be pos­si­ble with­out com­mu­nity sup­port and he paid trib­ute to the peo­ple of Ark­low for their sup­port.

‘All of the above im­prove­ments to our group would not have been pos­si­ble with­out the con­tin­ued sup­port and gen­eros­ity of the Ark­low Com­mu­nity and for that we are very grate­ful and would like to ex­press our sin­cere thanks’

Una Kelly, John Sum­mers, Brian Hig­gins, Joanne McDon­ald, Denise Guil­foyle, Bernie Breen, Amanda Bradley, Char­lotte Wolo­han, Jackie Keogh and Vicky O’Leary from Ark­low Com­mu­nity First Re­spon­ders at a train­ing ses­sion.

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