'When that alarm goes off, the hair stands on my head': Volunteer firefighter Donie (66) is always ready for action

Donie Lucey is a passionate volunteer who dedicates his time to helping others. He tells Roisin Burke about the joys volunteering brings him
'When that alarm goes off, the hair stands on my head': Volunteer firefighter Donie (66) is always ready for action

ICRR Air Ambulance volunteer fire fighter Donie Lucey from Derrinagree, Millstreet.

A PASSIONATE volunteer with a heart of gold, Donie Lucey has devoted years of his life to helping others.

After 20 years with the Civil Defence, Donie also dedicates his time to the District Motor Club, which organises events such as the Rally of the Lakes as well as being involved in the Millstreet Vintage Club raising money for charities such as Cork Simon and Penny Dinners.

For the past two years, Donie, who worked all his life as a carpenter and fitter, has also been volunteering with Air Ambulance (ICRR) as a volunteer firefighter.

Donie, aged 66, offers fire cover to the helicopter at take-off and landing to ensure the safety of those on board.

A pilot and two paramedics go in the helicopter when called to incidents and the volunteer fire crew ensure there are no problems prior to leaving and when returning.

The Millstreet man said the desire to help those worse off than himself has always been the driving force behind his volunteer work.

“When that alarm goes off that there is an emergency call and the team start tothe hair stands on my head knowing that somebody is in serious trouble somewhere jump into action and we all pull together to make the situation right or as right as possible,” he said.

“To know that I am one link in that chain that help to save lives and life is so valuable. It is so rewarding when the helicopter returns, I know that that person that was in trouble got the best possible care available in this country and on double-quick time.”

Donie said that the air ambulance offers a speedy way for aid to be at hand.

“The speed of getting to a casualty is probably the most important development in casualty care in recent years,” Donie said.

Donie said that the air ambulance offers a speedy way for aid to be at hand.

“The speed of getting to a casualty is probably the most important development in casualty care in recent years,” Donie said, “The time assistance can be brought to a person or a person can be brought to a hospital has significantly improved.”

The Irish Community Rapid Response Air Ambulance, which is charity funded helicopter emergency medical service, deals with all kinds of incidents — from heart attacks and collisions to farm accidents.

Donie who is married and has five children; three daughters and two sons, has made many good friends over the years through his volunteer work.

“It’s a great way to meet people and it is vital to help if you can,” he told The Echo

“I would love to be in 40 more organisations, but there is no point half doing it.

“If you are going to volunteer you need to do the job well. If you are not giving 150% you shouldn’t be doing it.”

Donie said it annoys him when people question the character or sentiment in volunteering.

“Life is not good for some people while others do their best and others wonder ‘Why is he /she doing so much for that organisation?’ 

‘What have they to gain?’ But they will never know or understand when they don’t get involved.

“Everyone should respect people that give their time and skills to the less well off and fundraise for them.”

Donie ended up as the chairperson of the Millstreet Vintage Club for many years, after being cajoled into attending a single meeting and went on to organise events and fundraise for worthwhile charities, before stepping down to dedicate more of his time to ICRR Air Ambulance.

A passionate motor enthusiast, Donie enjoys organising and attending vintage car and tractor events.

Donie is currently the driving force behind an ICRR Air Ambulance fundraiser called ‘100km in May your way’, asking people to walk, run, cycle 100km and raise funds for the charity emergency service.

The ICRR volunteer firefighter said the past year had been difficult with the pandemic and made fundraising harder than normal.

“We used to have people popping over to the base in Rathcoole with donations and we would give them a tour of the site, but that just can’t be happening anymore.”

The retired carpenter said the work that they do is very important and one of the most vital pieces of advice he could give to the public was to know their Eircode.

“Keep it in your mobile, have it in the house, it can save a lot of time in an emergency.”

More in this section

Sponsored Content

summersoaplogosml

Called Droid, our next story is about a boy who designs a robot at UCC and chaos ensues. It was written by Margaret Gillies, from the MA in Creative Writing Programme at UCC.

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more