Fire Fighters hold special charity night in memory of fallen colleague

Colleagues of Enniskillen fire-fighter Nial Hamilton, aged 44, who died while on duty at an incident in February last will present his family with the final sum raised from a memorial fund set-up in his honour. The presentation will be made at a special charity event in his memory at the Westville Hotel on Saturday November 1st.

Nial joined the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service since 1990, and was stationed at Lurgan when he died.

Close friend and colleague Liam Hanna said Nial died doing the job he loved. “Fire fighters will present the family with our fundraising efforts in an emotional tribute. Nial died whilst doing the job he was so passionate about. It was a total shock. He was the last person you would expect anything like this to happen to.”

“I got a phone call from one of the boys to say he had collapsed and had been taken to hospital and that it didn’t look good. I got another phone call at 2am to say he had passed away. It was very hard to take” he said.

Fire fighters at Lurgan and throughout the NIFRS are still coming to terms with his death. Liam said “If there was a bit of fun and craic to be had, Nial was there. And he always had a cheeky smile on his face. I would like to think we have been some support to his family. We are not going to be able to bring him back for them, but it’s nice to talk about him with them and tell them all the things that he used to be up to.”

The charity event will have a live band on the night; to celebrate a life lived to the full. “It will be a very emotional night, but it will also be a night to thank everyone who has contributed in any way to this fund and a chance to celebrate his life and remember him for the person that he was.”

The event begins at 7.30pm on 1st November 2014.
Published: 26/10/14 19.00

NIFRS_Nial Hamilton_Memorial Pic

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Three Gardai recognised at National Bravery Awards

Twenty one people were recognised for their outstanding acts of courage, bravery and life saving efforts at the National Bravery Awards at Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park, Dublin on Friday 24th October.

Among those were three Gardai, one of whom was Garda Mark Irwin who was awarded two bronze medals and two certificates of bravery for separate incidents.

The first incident happened when he and Reserve Garda Stephen Corrigan, were in pursuit of a car in Westport, Co. Mayo on October 28th, 2012. Garda Irwin stopped the pursuit for safety reasons, but a short time later he found the car sinking in a Knappaghbeg Lake. The vehicle had landed on its roof and the driver was trapped inside. Mark recalled “It was like a scene out of a movie. I was running completely on instinct and adrenaline, my training kicked in.”

Garda Irwin and Reserve Garda Corrigan jumped into the lake in freezing temperatures and managed to keep the man conscious until the emergency services arrived 20 minutes later. Reserve Garda Corrigan also received a bronze medal and certificates.

The second incident took place not long afterwards, while Mark was on duty at 4am with Garda John Boyle. The Gardai came upon a car which was dangling over the edge of a pier. A young man had climbed out of the car but had fallen into the sea. “My uniform was barely dry almost two weeks later when I came upon a car dangling back and forth over the edge of the pier,” he Garda Irwin. Garda Boyle also received a bronze medal.

The awards were presented by Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett, on behalf of Comhairle na Mire Gaile (the Deeds of Bravery Council). Mr. Barrett said it was important to recognise those who risked their lives for others. “These people could have sat back and let somebody else do it, but they didn’t”.

Bravery Awards_Garda Mark Irwin

Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett, Garda Mark Irwin and Assistant Garda Chief John Twomey.
Pic: Lensmen

Published: 26/10/14 at 17.00
Pic: Lensmen
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Ambulance Service seek €3m to secure 24 hour service for Tuam

The HSE National Ambulance Service is to seek funding in the next budget to secure a 24 hour ambulance service for Tuam, Co. Galway. There is currently an ambulance station in Tuam, however it is not manned on a 24 hour basis.

Minister Kathleen Lynch stated recently that funding of €3 million is being sought to improve response times and staff ambulance stations on a full-time basis in the west. “The western area poses significant challenges to target response times due to its rural nature and road network. Two independent national reviews are underway to improve the service and a number of new reforms are in place to increase response times and provide greater coverage.”

Galway West TD Colm Keaveney told Minister Lynch that an area in North Galway which includes Tuam was known locally as ‘The Bermuda Triangle’ due to the poor response time of ambulance services. In response, the Minister says that €3.6 million in funding and 43 staff were provided for this year, but agreed with Deputy Keaveney that a lot more is required.

Published: 26/10/14 at 16.00
Pic: Courtesy Brendan Gilligan

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Tipperary Gardai help launch Community Text Alert scheme

A Text Alert scheme for a south Tipperary community has been launched by local Gardai and the Aherlow Kilross Community Council, at Lisvernane, County Tipperary.

Speaking at the launch, Chief Superintendent of the Tipperary Garda Division, Catherine Kehoe underlined how important it is that everyone in the community minds each other and keeps their eyes and ears open for suspicious activity.

The voluntary community group has been working for a few years helping people to install monitored alarms and lighting before establishing the text alert scheme.

Muintir na Tire’s CEO Neil Garvey was also present at the launch. He said “The Text Alert launch today confirms how the local communities are looking out for each other and keeping crime at bay”.

Tipperary Community Text Alert scheme

Front L-R: Tipperary Chief Superintendent Catherine Kehoe, Deirdre O’Dea, Chair Aherlow/Kilross Community Alert Group and Peter Butler, TASC Cahir. Back L-R: Sergeant John Kingston, James O’Neil, Muintir na Tire, Neil Garvey, CEO Muintir Na Tire), TD Mattie McGrath and Superintendent Pat O’Connor.

Published: 25/10/14 at 16.30
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Carlow and Kilkenny to share Chief Fire Officer

Carlow and Kilkenny Fire Services are to share a Chief Fire Officer. The move follows a government policy introduced by former Minister for Environment Phil Hogan, under the ‘Keeping Communities Safe’ programme, which aims to reduce fire service authorities from 30 to just 21 nationally.

The merging of the two Chief Fire Officer positions for Carlow and Kilkenny was highlighted and severely criticised by councillors at a recent meeting of Carlow County Council.

Councillor Anne Ahern said “when it comes to fire safety, we can’t risk any cutbacks that would compromise the service, and that this move is asking for a leap of faith”, while Councillor John Cassin said the move amounted to a “slippery slope of devolution of power.”

CEO: ‘Authorities not looking for councillors endorsement’
Many councillors said they were not prepared to endorse the move until they sought assurances that the fire service in County Carlow would not suffer, however, Carlow County Council’s Chief Executive Tom Barry said the authorities were not looking for an endorsement from the local representatives.

Mr. Barry said that the proposal was to share the expertise between the two counties as a starting point, and that the council would continue its role as the statutory fire authority. In response to a statement by Councillor Jennifer Murnane O’ Connor that Kilkenny’s chief fire officer wasn’t replaced, Mr. Barry said that this presented an opportunity to introduce the changes.

CFO: ‘Delivery of services will not be affected’
Chief Fire Officer with Carlow County Fire Service is Gerard W Guerin. He attended the meeting and addressed some of the concerns raised by councillors. Mr. Guerin insisted that the sharing of the CFO position would not affect the delivery of services on the ground. “This hasn’t been done before, so there’s no model. It could be seen as a disadvantage, but we can also see it as an opportunity to reshape the service. This will not affect the delivery of the services on the ground” he said.

Ger Guerin said he was not interested in any change that would damage the delivery of the service and that a structure was needed to improve services for both counties, and that there are efficiencies that can be achieved by amalgamating both services.

No guarantee that all four Carlow stations will remain open
Councillor William Paton queried whether the fire stations in Carlow, Bagenalstown, Tullow and Hacketstown would remain open following the merge of the Chief Fire Officer; however, CEO Tom Barry said he couldn’t give any guarantee about the four Carlow fire stations, adding that “any changes to the fire safety plan would come directly from the fire services.”

Carlow Fire Station HQ and Title

Published: 25/10/14 at 16:00
Pic: By Declan Keogh

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GSOC investigate fatal high speed garda chase collision in Kildare

The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission is investigating a motorway crash involving two civilian cars and a garda car, which has claimed the life of a young woman last night.

Published: 24 Oct 2014 at 08: 30
The incident unfolded after Gardai were alerted to a number of robberies in the Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. It is believed a car with five people on board were escaping gardai when they crashed through the Toll Plaza at Portlaosie. Gardai from the Laois/Offaly Division were involved in the chase at this stage.

The pursuits proceed through four counties and entered county Kildare shortly before 9pm. Those in the fleeing car had five occupants, aged between 13 years and those in their 20’s.

As the raiders car travelled at high speed along the M7, a woman had entered onto the Motorway at Junction 13, Kildare and it is reported that as she merged onto the M7, the car being chased by Gardai had rear ended the woman’s car.

Gardai say the woman died at the scene. Seven other people, including two gardai were injured in the crash.

Emergency Services
Seven Ambulances, two Ambulance Incident Officers a number of units of KIldare Fire Service from Newbridge and Monasterevin were mobilised to the incident. Emergency service personnel attempted to stop traffic on the motorway to avoid a knock-on collision. Seven people were brought by Ambulance to Naas and Tallaght hospitals. Injuries suffered by the Gardai are said to be minor, while the injuries of the five occupants in the raider’s car are described as serious.

GSOC the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission was alerted to the incident and arrived on the scene at approximately 11pm. In a statement last night, GSOC confirmed that a collision occurred between two civilian vehicles, one of which was being pursued by gardai. One woman was killed in the crash and five other people were injured. GSOC Spokesperson Lorna Leigh said it appears the fleeing car may have been involved in criminal activity in Co. Tipperary earlier.

The motorway between Junction 13 Kildare and Junction 12 Newbridge was closed last night and remains closed this morning while Gardai and GSOC carry out their investigations.

Gardai who were involved and witnessed the chase were said to be ‘extremely shaken’ by the incident.

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Fire crew have lucky escape following Emergency Tender collision

Two members of Wicklow County Fire Service had a lucky escape today when the Emergency Tender they were travelling in collided with a tree, The incident occurred near Roundwood, Co. Wicklow as the ET crew were returning from a call.

Both fire-fighters, based at Wicklow Town fire station were brought to hospital but later released. Thankfully, nobody else was injured as a result of the collision.

Published: 21/10/14 at 17.20
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Thirteen Order of Malta units cover the Ploughing Championships

Up to seventy members of the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps from the Midland and Mid Eastern regions attended the National Ploughing Championships held in Rathineska, Co. Laois recently.  An estimated 279,500 people attended the three day event, which is Europe’s largest outdoor exhibition and agricultural shows.

By Declan Keogh
An Garda Siochana and Laois County Fire Service attended the event in an operational capacity, providing varied services to both the National Ploughing team and the public in general. In addition to that, the Order of Malta played an integral role at this national event, providing specialist cover such as medical, welfare and communications.

The National Ploughing Championships has become the largest annual duty undertaken by the Ambulance Corps’ and is the only duty where specialist teams provide a full medical service to the event. The Order of Malta Press Office confirmed to Emergency Times that up to seventy volunteers from thirteen units gave hundreds of long hours, from early till late. All the members were PHECC accredited Advanced Paramedics, Paramedics, Emergency Medical technicians, Emergency First responders and Cardiac First Responders.

Services provided on site were their own Medical Centre, staffed by OMAC nursing staff, a Welfare Centre, a Mobile Communications unit and a full Control Room. Seven Medical Posts were situated throughout the site and easily identified.

Unlike major concert or other outdoor events, the National Ploughing Championships doesn’t have a high number of patients requiring treatment; however, there the Press Office reported a steady number of minor injuries being treated on site, in the Medical Centre or in a Medical Posts, and only a small number of those having to be transferred off site.

It was a very successful duty and great event for the Ambulance Corps overall. The Order of Malta unit’s which provided personnel were from Athlone, Athy, Baldoyle, Birr/Roscrea, Carlow, Cashel, Kells, Mullingar, Naas, Newbridge, Portlaoise, Tullamore and Waterford.

NPA_2014_OMAC Crew_640

Pic: Courtesy Order of Malta
Published: 19.10.14 at 16.30
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Northern Ireland Emergency Services launch Firework Safety Campaign

Emergency Services in Northern Ireland have launched this years Firework Safety Campaign ahead of Halloween week. The launch which took place at Hammer Youth Centre in North Belfast involved the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS), the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS).

By Declan Keogh
The campaign is aimed at young people aged between 11 and 25 and highlights the dangers of fireworks and the importance of following the Fireworks Code. The joint safety initiative was delivered in partnership between the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Department of Justice.

‘Halloween is a time for family fun and responsibility for all’. That was the message from Public Safety Minister Jim Wells and Justice Minister David Ford, as they pleaded with the public to make sure their loved ones remain safe this Halloween period. The Ministers and members of the Police, Fire and Ambulance services of Northern Ireland were joined by young people from both Hammer Youth Club and Ardoyne Youth club as they watched a Fireworks display to demonstrate importance of fireworks safety and reminded that fireworks should only be lit in a safe and controlled environment by a responsible adult.

NIFRS Firewors PosterMinister: ‘Everyone has a duty of care’
Praising the low number of injuries last year, Health Minister Jim Wells said: “In 2013 we had the lowest number of injuries ever recorded with only six injuries reported throughout the whole province. This is a remarkable effort and we want to see this effort maintained, and improved. It would be absolutely fantastic if no injuries were recorded this year. Every one of us has a duty of care to ensure fireworks are handled responsibly to prevent fireworks related injuries to all, particularly children and young people. We all want to relax and enjoy this time with our friends and family. Most of all we want to protect and sustain the life of our loved ones.” he said.

Minister Wells also reminded people of the traumatic effects that fireworks can have on our elderly neighbours, and also pets and farm animals, and again appealed to everyone, to stay safe and act responsibly.

The Justice Minister David Ford highlighted the legal requirement to secure a licence to use fireworks and the importance of buying from a legitimate supplier. He said: “The law on fireworks is very clear. Purchasers must obtain a fireworks licence from the Department of Justice and they must be purchased from a registered supplier. I would appeal to those using fireworks to abide by the Fireworks Safety Code as I do not want to see people breaking the law by buying fireworks without a licence or using fireworks that may be unsafe.”

PSNI Chief ‘Fireworks must be bought from a licensed dealer’
Chief Inspector Peter Bobby Singleton, PSNI said: “We want Halloween to be a safe and enjoyable time for everyone. Most people are responsible and safely enjoy the festivities, but the very simple fact is that fireworks are made from explosive material and if misused, can cause serious and life changing injuries. Everyone should follow the official advice and have a safe and enjoyable Halloween. The law clearly states that fireworks must be bought from a licensed dealer who is required to keep sales records. Fireworks bought from other sources could be of a sub-standard quality presenting an even bigger risk of injury. It is also essential that you have a licence when purchasing any fireworks.”

The PSNI is also appealing to the community to help stamp out illegal trading and misuse of fireworks by contacting police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Your information may help prevent ongoing anti-social behaviour or someone being seriously injured. Local Neighbourhood Policing Team will provide advice and assistance if required.

NIFRS_Fireworks_SelfieNIFRS ACFO ‘Never go near a lit firework, even if it hasn’t gone off’
Firefighters will visit schools across Northern Ireland in the run up to Halloween to remind young people of the dangers of fireworks. Dale Ashford, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Community Protection, NIFRS said: “Last year’s all time low in the number of people attending Emergency Departments across Northern Ireland with firework-related injuries is good news, however 6 people were still injured and we want to reach a time in Northern Ireland when there are no firework-related injuries. Injuries can be prevented by following the Fireworks Code and acting responsibly when handling fireworks and sparklers will ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable Halloween this year. Always follow the manufacturer’s advice on how to light and use fireworks and sparklers correctly.

Never go near a lit firework, even if it hasn’t gone off, as it could still explode and always let fireworks cool and dispose of them carefully. Never allow small children or pets to go near fireworks.  Remember Fireworks are safe and can be fun but only if you use them properly.”

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service has witnessed at first hand the life changing injuries that can be caused by fireworks. Brian McNeill, Director of Operations with NIAS said “Injuries that are caused in a moment of carelessness that can never be bought back and can have a debilitating impact that can last forever. NIAS Paramedics have witnessed at first hand the life changing injuries that can be caused by fireworks.  We would urge people to follow the Fireworks Code and ensure that an adult is always in charge. Have fun but stay safe!”

NIFRS_Firewrks A

Published: 18.10.14 at 20.30
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Pics: Courtesy NIFRS

Deputy Chief of Staff presents 45th Infantry Group with oversees medals

Deputy Chief of Staff Operations (DCOS OPS) with the Irish Defence Forces Major General Ralph James has visited personnel of the 45th Infantry Group deployed to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon as part of a two day visit to Lebanon.

Major General James received an operational brief on the current situation before presenting Irish personnel with overseas service medals. Major General James also laid a wreath at Tibnin Memorial to the forty seven Irish Defence Forces personnel who died in service with UNIFIL since it was first established in 1978.

DCOS OPS Laid wreath

Photo: Corporal Paul Millar / Defence Forces

Addressing Irish troops on parade Deputy Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Major General Ralph James said “In an area that has suffered more than its fair share of violence, the Irish Defence Forces, on behalf of the Irish people, have stood steadfast as a beacon of light and hope to so many. So many lives have been improved by your presence. So many towns, villages and families have benefited from your diligence. This has not been without cost and our 47 comrades that gave their lives in the implementation of this mission remain forever in our thoughts. I am very happy to be here to witness the contribution being made by the Irish Defence Forces in South Lebanon. I thank you for your commitment to maintaining peace and stability in the region. You give all a justifiable reason to be proud of our Defence Forces and all they achieve.”


Photo: Corporal Brian Doherty / Defence Forces

Photo: Corporal Paul Millar / Defence Forces
Published by Declan Keogh on 18.10.14 at 18.50
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