Adrian O’Grady, station officer, Dublin Fire Brigade 6am My three children are of an age where they can get themselves out in the morning. I head off to the fire station in Tallaght on my bike, a 10km cycle. 9am At the station, we start with the parade, where duties are assigned for the day. Staff are rostered on the fire tender or the ambulance and within that assigned specific roles. You could be the driver one day and the person assigned to fight the fire the next. The parade takes a couple of minutes, after which we check the appliance to make sure everything is in good working order. 10am Our day is a mixture of drills and responding to call-outs. We practice exercises all the time, from how to respond to chemical incidents, to ambulance exercises, to heights rescue, to swift water rescue in response to drownings. 12 noon When the alarm goes off, we have 60 seconds to get ourselves into the motor and leave the station. It could be anything from a car on fire, to a horse trapped in a lake, to a road traffic accident (RTA). There’s a lot of motorway around Tallaght, so we are busy with RTAs. Our ambulance service dealt with 130,000 call-outs last year. We also respond to mountain fires, and to suicides. Responding to suicide is a big responsibility and we have to get it right. I have an MSc in bereavement and loss and it’s invaluable on the frontline. The course is run by the Irish Hospice Foundation in partnership with the RCSI and it’s been pivotal in my approach to breaking bad news. We are invited into people’s homes in their worst moments or see them in despair. We have a duty to attempt to alleviate that, even when there is nothing more anyone can do.
We have dinner in the mess, which is a good bonding opportunity in what can be a stressful environment. I’m the station co-ordinator for critical incident stress management and I help colleagues who have been traumatised.
The afternoon is taken up with more exercises and responding to call-outs. Members have a dual role as firefighters and paramedics.
The day shift finishes. As a psychotherapist and counsellor and complicated grief therapist, I may have people to see in the evenings as part of my private practice.
“We are invited into people’s homes in their worst moments”