Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Health -

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”

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