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On Saturday last, the 24th September, Wexford Civil Defence hosted an inter agency training day at Wexford County Council buildings in Carricklawn with over 90 members of various agencies attending. All Primary Response agencies – (Fire Service, Gardaí, Coast Guard and Ambulance Service) and Voluntary Services including Civil Defence, Order of Malta, Red Cross, Wexford MarineWatch and Equine SAR (Search and Rescue) participated on the day.
Following registration at 10.30am, the morning’s activities consisted of presentations ranging from Working with Horses to treatments required for Diving Accidents. Following a talk by Eugene Brennan of the Equine SAR, David O’Grady (Order of Malta) discussed treatment of injuries sustained as a result from a fall from a horse. Deirdre Bowers of the HSE gave an interesting presentation on Diabetes while Róisin McGuire from the Civil Defence College talked about Working with Divers – Decompressing Illness and Treatments.
After lunch, Cllr. George Lawor discussed the strategy, experience and success of Wexford MarineWatch.
The afternoon was taken up with practical demonstrations on Spinal Immobilisation, Extrication from Vehicles and from the Equine Search and Rescue team. Liam Buckley from Wexford Civil Defence demonstrated the searching capabilities and uses of Drones.
Speaking after the event, Acting Civil Defence Officer Peter O’Connor said, “The idea of today was to bring all the emergency services together both statutory and voluntary for a meet and greet, to get know each other, to share ideas and past experiences, to see if there are areas where we can help each other out in the future both in a training and resource availability.” Peter thanked all the organisations and speakers for attending and contributing to the day.
The day’s activities concluded with a dinner held in the Riverbank Hotel attended by Senior officers from the Civil Defence. A presentation was made to Ms. Gabrielle Willis, marking her retirement as Civil Defence Officer after 29 years service.
Gabrielle enlisted in Wexford Civil Defence on the 15th November 1976, in 1980 achieved the rank of Instructor in Welfare and Casualty. Gabrielle was appointed as acting Civil Defence Officer on the 8th March 1986 following the retirement of Mr. Tom O’Connor, Civil Defence Officer, was appointed as fulltime Civil Defence Officer on the 2nd March 1987.
During her tenure, Gabrielle witnessed considerable change and progress for the service and made a huge contribution to Civil Defence both locally and at national level having served two terms on the National Civil Defence Board. Gabrielle was always keen to ensure all services, and equipment were improved and the Volunteers received the best possible training and opportunities in return for their time. With Gabrielle’s help and persuasion Wexford has punched well above our weight in achieving national standards such as
- Emergency Medical Technician, (27 to date in Wexford)
- Welfare HACCP
- Swift water Responders & Technicians (flood and severe weather)
- Radio Communications – Tetra
- Drones – Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) provide regional cover
Uniform and safety equipment were always a key concern to Gabrielle to ensure everyone was equipped to carry out our work.
Gabrielle was presented with a new laptop and a bouquet by Liam Healy and Phil O’Mahoney on behalf of all her colleagues in recognition of her years for service.
Wexford Civil Defence has expanded its searching capability with the addition of a drone or (SUA Small Unmanned Aircraft). The drones’ main function will be to help with searches for missing persons. We currently have two Volunteers trained as pilot / operators. The drone carries a camera and relays the information back to the ground operators. All screens display the flight information for the craft which includes altitude, vertical and horizontal velocity, distance and direction from the operator, number of GPS satellites visible, mode of operation and also the battery voltage level. All the flight data is superimposed on the video imagery coming from the camera, mounted on the craft.
All operators of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems must be licensed by the Irish Aviation Authority. This license consists of two parts. One is a Permission to Operate a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System and the second is an Aerial Work Permission. In order to gain the necessary permissions, potential operators must first complete an Aeronautical Ground School Course followed by a flight test conducted by an Approved Testerr from the Irish Aviation Authority.
Wexford Civil Defence boat crews were tasked by Wicklow Civil Defence to help with the Bray Air Show. All boats launched in Greystones and preceded to Brayhead for a briefing on the event and allocate tasks to each boat crew. Boat crews provided safety boat cover and kept the fly zone clear of all boats. Wicklow and Wexford boats worked together patrolling the area and directing leisure craft as needed.
During the two days we also had a chance to board the LE Ciara to have a tour the ship and meet the officers and crew, a big thanks for their hospitality and use of their facilities.
Thanks to Wicklow Civil Defence for the invite and looking after our crews for the two days.
Wexford Civil Defence volunteers from New Ross, Wexford and Gorey units provided Medical cover for the 67th Bannow & Rathangan Agricultural Show on Thursday 14th July 2016, which was attended by approx 15,000 visitors. This is County Wexfords biggest Agricultural Shows held ever year and one of the busiest events that Wexford Civil Defence covers. Ambulance and first aid cover was provided by 21 volunteers from 8am – 8pm. Due to the size of show area the following vehicles were utilised
3 x Road Ambulance
1 x 4×4 Ambulance
1 x 4×4 Jeep
Wexford Civil Defence took part in the regional Swift Water and Boating Exercise in Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny on Saturday 28th November 2015. Teams from Kilkenny, Carlow, Tipperary, Waterford and Waterford County took part. The exercise was carried out between Graiguenamanagh and Glasganny allowing boat crews to operate the lock systems en route.
The Swift Water exercise put Swift Water Responders and Swift Water Rescue Technicians through their paces. The teams training covered throw bagging, conditional rescues, strainer swimming, and defensive and aggressive swimming techniques.
More than 100 volunteers from all over Wexford attended service awards at Wexford County Council’s annual Civil Defence Awards Presentation Ceremony. The function, in the Riverbank House Hotel, was attended by County Council Chairman Cllr Tony Dempsey, Council Chief Executive Tom Enright, Director of Services John Carley, Chief Fire Officer John Maher,Chief Superintendant John Roche and Stephen Hall, Principal Officer National Civil Defence College.
The awards were presented following months of rigorous training by the 110 male and female volunteers of Wexford Civil Defence.
Civil Defence Officer Gabrielle Willis outlined the work that was carried out during the year: 63 Local courses in various disciplines were run and certificates were give out for Rope Rescue Instructors, two qualified, Rope Rescue Level One Operator, seven qualified, Field Skills course, eight qualified, Swiftwater and Flood Responder Instructor, one qualified, Swiftwater & flood responders, four qualified, Water and Flood Awareness, 47 qualified, Cardiac First Responder, 22 qualified, Cardiac First Responder Instructors, 3 qualified, Occupational First Aid, 24 qualified, OFA QQI, 16 qualified, Emergency First Responders, 17 qualified, Manual Handling People Moving Instructors, three qualified, Manual Handling, 20 qualified and Manual Handling People Moving, 18 qualified.
The courses are specifically designed to equip the volunteers with essential health and safety and rescue skills to enable them to carry out their volunteer services and respond to the many emergency callouts they receive throughout the year.
Gabrielle said 15 OFA courses were run for the county councl with around 120 people qualifying and 77 Civic/Community events were provided with Ambulance and First Aid cover and Boat Safety Cover.
During the award function, long service awards were presented to Liam Healy, 30 years, Tony Forte, Jonathan McDonald, Jan Crosbie and Conor Jordan, 20 years and Danny Meaney and Denis Sheridan, 10 years.
Wexford Civil Defence is a service of Wexford County Council. It is headed up by the Civil Defence Officer who is a full time employee of Wexford County Council. As a national statutory volunteer organisation it’s function is to provide a second line response to the Primary Response Agencies ie. An Garda Siochana, Health Service Executive and Local Authority.
Wexford Civil Defence has 110 active volunteers spread throughout the County. They are all Garda vetted, and they are trained in skills such as Casualty/first aid, Rescue, Search & recovery, Welfare, Communications, Radiation Monitoring and fire fighting skills. Night training classes for the volunteers are run each by highly trained Instructors in the different disciplines.
If you are interested in volunteering to be part Wexford Civil Defence, in being highly trained in responding to emergencies or providing assistance to community events, and learning exciting and interesting skills, then please contact Wexford Civil Defence Office for further information. (053 9196265)