NORTH Cork’s first responders are joining forces with Gardaí and firefighters in a bid to push an ambulance the equivalent of a full marathon.
A group of five responder schemes will come together to hold a joint event in Cork Racecourse in Mallow on April 27 at 11am to raise awareness of responder schemes and their contribution to the locality.
The initiative will also raise vital funds for first responder equipment to save even more lives.
Those participating in the ambulance push hope to move the vehicle 21 laps of the race course, the equivalent of 26.2 miles.
The team has been undergoing vigorous training at Munster Driving Campus ahead of the big day.
A total of 22 men and women will take turns pushing the ambulance on the day, which is being supplied by the civil defence.
Former Irish rugby star Tony Buckley will have the honour of sitting in the driving seat during the “big push.”
The first responder schemes, which include Doneraile Buttevant, Mallow along with Ballyclough and Liscarroll, have received a combined 1,000 calls since being launched in 2014.
Their aim is to now recruit more volunteers and teach vital life-saving skills to members of local communities.
“We initially wanted to do a bed push through all the towns we covered but it was a little impractical,” said one of the organisers John Finnegan.
“In the end, we decided on an ambulance push. We’ll have teams of four subbing in and out at a time. Everyone involved is confident we can pull this off.”
Funds raised will go towards medical bags, defibrillators, among other equipment.
“We wanted to make it a blue light event to raise awareness of what’s being done in the community.”
The event will give people a chance to meet with members of the civil defence, the Red Cross, Mallow Search and Rescue, the Irish Heart Foundation, Blood bikes, My Canine Companion, and community first responders.
The National Ambulance service will also be present for the event.
John explained the importance of first responders to communities.
“If a first responder is dispatched it’s normally one of four things-choking, chest pain, stroke or a cardiac arrest. A number of people owe their lives to first responders.
“Without the scheme, these people would not be here today. Having the first responders around really calms the patient down. As soon as they see the bags and official jackets you can almost sense that feeling of calm set in.”
It’s nice to walk away from a situation knowing that you made a difference.
“I think people realise how needed this is in the community. Everyone does it for their own selfish reasons. The person in danger could just as easily be our own parents, children or siblings.
With first responders, you know that 100 per cent will be done for them before the ambulance arrives.”
He acknowledged the commitment required by first responders.
“Every so often we simulate different scenarios which involve meeting at a certain location and assigned postcodes.
“They then have to find the address and attend to the patient who could be simulating anything from a stroke to a cardiac arrest.”
Sponsors making the event possible include Frank Roche Services the Lions Den Mallow, Magni Ireland and Cork Racecourse Mallow.