Pictured Above: The Limerick Red Cross volunteers.
This year, the Irish Red Cross are celebrating the 75th year since the organisation was first established in Limerick in 1940. Over the past 15 years in particular the branch has grown substantially and with over 350 members, it’s the largest Red Cross branch in Ireland.
The Red Cross abides by its 7 principles – Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality.
The Red Cross offers a range of services including first aid and ambulance cover at events, first aid training, youth activities and health and social care.
The number of events being covered by the IRC continues to grow year on year with over 270 events being covered across Limerick City and County in 2014. In addition to this event cover, Limerick Red Cross volunteers provide a valuable ambulance service to provide transfers for patients to and from their homes to Milford Hospice and for clinic appointments in University Hospital Limerick, with over 70 such transfers in 2014.
Volunteers contributed more than 10,500 hours providing first aid services at public events in 2014. This equates to over 269 working weeks (over 5 working years) given by the members supporting community activities and events on an entirely voluntary basis during the year.
The Irish Red Cross is approved by the Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council (the statutory body with responsibility for Pre Hospital Care in Ireland) to implement its Clinical Practice Guidelines.
Events that the Red Cross cover include Munster rugby matches in Thomond Park as well as school boy and All Ireland League fixtures, car rallying, the Special Olympics, point-to-points, community games, festivals and fetes, cycling, triathlons, and numerous events in UL such as frisbee tournaments and American football.
The Red Cross operates a fleet of 10 vehicles in Limerick City & County, comprising of 5 ambulances, 2 off-road ambulances (4x4s), 2 minibuses and an operations support vehicle.
Most recently, volunteers from all of the Branches have been involved in responding within their communities during recent severe weather events, such as the flooding in the Kings Island area of the city, and during the storms and flooding of February 2014. While the activation of their response service is infrequent, it is invaluable within communities during an emergency. Their emergency and community response may typically include the evacuation of people from their homes / nursing homes, the delivery of safe drinking water and flood relief packs to homes, using their road and off-road ambulances and making immediate humanitarian cash grants to families in need during a crisis.
The IRC hold national First Aid competitions annually. Limerick has a very good record in these competitions and teams from Limerick have represented Ireland in the European First Aid Competition on four occasions in the last 10 years. In 2006, the European First Aid Competitions were held in UL.
The IRC is a recognised as a training institution by the Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council. It provides First Aid training for its members up to Emergency Medical Technician level. Other training courses include Practical first aid, Intermediate First Aid, Cardiac First Responder Community and Advanced, Emergency First Responder, Radio procedures, and Safer Patient Handling.
The organisation also provides a range of courses to the public including Occupational First Aid, Practical First Aid and Cardiac First Responder. Courses can be arranged for groups and individuals.
The Branches also offer a health and social care service, which includes therapeutic hand care and a skin camouflage service. Therapeutic Hand Care volunteers usually visit elderly people in nursing homes or their own homes and provide a relaxing hand massage while also providing the time and the opportunity to chat with the person. The skin camouflage practitioners can provide training to people who have skin pigmentation or birth marks on how best to use make up to minimise the appearance of the skin condition.
The Red Cross has 5 very active youth groups in Limerick City. In the cadet unit, they start at 12 years or younger, up to 18. The youth groups meet on a Saturday and participate in a lot of competitions. Youth members receive first aid training and take part in a range of other social activities. Many of these member later progress into the adult section of the organisation.
The IRC is always recruiting and seeking new members to assist with delivering its services. Volunteer may wish to get involved in its First Aid or Hand Care Services or might assist with fundraising activities. The organisation also needs drivers for its fleet of vehicles. Drivers must be aged over 25 years.
People who already hold first aid qualifications such as Occupational First Aid, Emergency First Responder or Emergency Technician are always welcome, however the organisation also provides full training for new members who may have no previous training or experience.
The IRC undertakes a range of fundraising activities throughout the year to fund it services. These include street collections, church gate collections, bag packing, table quizzes and coffee morning. The organisation very much appreciates the great support it receives from the public on these occasions.
Ruth Mahon, the PRO of the Limerick Red Cross explains how important the work that they do really is, “Because even with just basic first aid, basic CPR, you can save someone’s life.”
The Red Cross Training Centre is located at 58 Henry Street Limerick. You can contact the centre at 061 468417, or e-mail them at [email protected]. For more information, you can visit their website here. You can also check out their Facebook page here, and their Twitter here.
Read more about the Limerick Red Cross here.