Wexford County Council, hosted a Voluntary Emergency Services (VES) Information day for Waterford and Wexford area in County Hall on Saturday 4th March 2023. This information day was arranged by the VES Sub-group. The VES group represents voluntary emergency services from Carlow, Kilkenny Waterford and Wexford and is supported by the Principal Response Agencies (PRA) (An Garda Síochána, the Health Service Executive and the Local Authorities). Peter O’Connor, Civil Defence Officer for Wexford is Chairman of the Group, with representatives from the Irish Red Cross, Order of Malta and the South East Mountain Rescue Association.
Carolyne Godkin, Director of Services for Wexford County Council with responsibilities for Emergency Services, welcomed everyone to the event and thanked them for their contribution to the evacuation of WGH on Wednesday. The training day focussed on the valuable role that the VES can provide in support of the PRA during major events. The day was planned for several months and was to finish with a transportation exercise in support of the HSE in a severe weather event. The events on Wednesday with the fire in Wexford General Hospital changed the schedule of the day and rather than have an exercise the focus was on the events during the evacuation of WGH and the supports provided by the VES.
Each VES made a presentation to the group to outlining their structures, resources, equipment and capabilities that could be used to support the PRA. Peter O’Connor presented on behalf of Civil Defence, Paddy Redmond on behalf of the Red Cross, Dylan O’Connor of behalf of Order of Malta. South East Blood bikes attended also to introduce themselves to the VES and highlight the important work they carry out on a daily and weekly basis. The PRA s contributed with presentations on how the VES support them. Marianna Kealy, Inter Agency Emergency Management Officer outlined how the VES and the PRAs are aligned and work together in planning and response to Major Emergency Management in the South East. Mary Rose Fitzgerald presented on behalf of the HSE explaining HSE structure and the VES support to date. Inspector Graham Rowley and Sergeant Eddie Wilde presented on behalf of AGS in relation to the response to the WGH fire and working the VES. Ray Murphy SACFO, Wexford Fire Services discussed the events of Wednesday fire from both a fire and the VES response.
Linda O Leary, Hospital Manager, Wexford General Hospital attended the event and expressed her gratitude to all present for their professional and timely response to support the hospital evacuation on Wednesday.
The event proved to be hugely beneficial and further training days are planned for the future to continue to enhance the interactions between the VES and the PRA.