Longford Civil Defence on track with off road training

Argo, an 8×8 amphibious all-terrain vehicle which is being used by Longford Civil Defence was put to the test last week at Terrafirma Training’s purpose-built training centre at Kilkea, Castledermot, Co Kildare last week as part of a training programme for its operators by Terrafirma Training (TFT).

Four volunteers from Longford Civil Defence travelled to TFT’s Millbrook Off-Road Centre at Kilkea recently to undergo training on this vital new piece of rescue equipment.

Photo: L-R: (Thomas Greene TFT, Civil Defence volunteers Donal Quinn, Michael Heaney, Alan Greally & Ronan Duffy, Civil Defence Officer Seamus Kiernan and Kevin Jones TFT)

TFT took delivery of the Argo prior to the course to enable the TFT instructors to familiarise themselves with the equipment and health & safety protocol, ensuring it would be safe to carry out training on and subsequently be used in Civil Defence operations.  TFT’s training facilities are ideally suited for the training of all types of off-road and all-terrain vehicles, with the site possessing varying terrain and conditions.


Heavy rain which fell on the previous night of training made conditions perfect to simulate the kind of conditions which may be encountered by the emergency or voluntary services using this vehicle.

TFT’s strict policy on any training course is of course health & safety, which is a generically vital part of any course content and, with this in mind, a full risk assessment was discussed and completed for the day’s training ahead.  Route assessment and planning is paramount when undertaking any off-road task.  An “if in doubt stay out” attitude was adopted and training began.

A full day’s training on the Argo saw the trainees tackling all kinds of terrain. An ongoing assessment, coupled with question and answer sessions, was carried out by TFT instructors Kevin Jones ad Thomas Greene throughout the day to ascertain that all important points had been understood. 


During the day, a training scenario was set up where one of TFT’s instructor’s in a TFT 4×4 off road vehicle drove a route through boggy ground and subsequently got the vehicle stuck up to its doors in mud.  The 4×4 had to be winched out leaving deep tyres marks in the ground.  One of the Civil Defence trainees, along with a TFT instructor, drove the same route safely and successfully leaving very few marks on the same ground. 

CDO Seamus Kiernan and his team all embraced the course and passed with flying colours and were presented with Certificates. The day ended with a course critique from the trainees, all agreeing that the course met their expectations and ticked all the right boxes. 



Emergency Times caught up with the TFT’s instructors Kevin Jones and Thomas Greene, who are the only two instructors in Ireland who possess Lantra and City & Guilds instructor and assessor level in off road driving, ATV, Winching and off road trailer handling.

Kevin told Emergencytimes.ie “We have been bowled over by the professionalism of all Civil Defence personnel that have visited us at Millbrook Off Road Centre.  TFT recently carried out training of all Civil Defence approved driving instructors (ADI’s) in 4×4 off road driving to Lantra accredited level, which is equivalent to FETAC Level 5”.

Speaking about the handling of the Civil Defence driver in one of the training scenarios mentioned above, Thomas Greene said “Copious amounts of bragging rights were issued to the Civil Defence driver and this more than capable and, more to the point, safe piece of equipment.  A truly fit for purpose vehicle”.

Longford Civil Defence and Terrafirma Team

IncidentControlRoom produces 10 workflow tips for crisis management

Incident Control Room, provides a state of the art, reliable and resilient mobile technology, known as ICR, to businesses with an incident and crisis management and business continuity requirement globally.

The ICR App, a powerful tool, is already used in over 70 percent of the Irish Fire and Rescue Services as well as in non-emergency services industries such as Education, Life Sciences, and Food and Beverage to name just a few.

When it comes to dealing with crisis, or crisis management, the team at Incident Control Room have produced their ‘Top 10’ workflow tips to support crisis management procedures.

Workflows, when done right can provide enormous support to your crisis management team when they are called to respond to an incident or a crisis.

Photoshoot_Zenith Technologies
Photo: Michael O’ Rourke Photography

Here are their Top Ten Workflow Tips

1. Think executive summary not “War and Peace”
Your crisis management team spend most of their time working on the business and not necessarily in the business, so when your preparing your workflows, keep it concise and to the point.

2. Make the workflow role specific
Each member of the team is expected to respond to crises as per plan. Build workflows that will support their decision-making and demonstrate compliance with the established plans.

3. K.I.S.S.
Before ICR, I used spreadsheets to create simple but effective workflows & checklists for the crisis management team to follow. I had 5/6 columns with numbered rows for each step that had to be completed. Simple to update and simple to follow. See 4 – 7 as to how I first developed my workflows.

4. Tell the person what needs to be done (“Column A”)
This is not a plan, this is a set of crisis management workflow that need to be completed. Use actionable language to support your crisis management team through different stages of the crisis i.e. Contact team on xxx-xxxx-xxx, Reference document xxx-xxxx-xxx, etc. Avoid asking questions, as this sometimes is confusing.

5. Tell the person what document(s) should be referenced (“Column B”)
and in particular where they can be located. Use a hyperlink, and expedite the process for them. Make the hyperlinks step dependent for better results during the crisis.

6. Tell the person what person(s), contractor(s), agencies etc. should be contacted (“Column C”)
and then include their number in the workflow. Make the contacts step dependent also.

7. Mark Complete (“Column E & F”)
use a checkbox and a column for date & time stamping the action as complete. A simple way of seeing who did what post incident and demonstrating due diligence of the crisis management team. If you use excel, then you can copy your crisis management workflows into one document, then filter on the date & time range to produce a chronological log of the crisis management teams decisions.

8. Make them accessible
Avoid paper-based systems, why you ask? Well, the very reason for starting ICR was to ensure teams had up to date plans and workflows available to them at all times. Utilise the cloud – there’s SharePoint, Google docs, Dropbox, and many more. Talk to IT and see what’s available. It goes without saying that you need to facilitate access to these documents from a mobile device also. By utilizing a cloud solution, this will also help you enormously when you need to update workflows across the organization.

9. Drill regularly
Like everything; ensure that you workflows are tested through crisis management simulations at least annually. Run your simulations using the new workflows, and get feedback from the crisis management team to enhance and improve the workflows.

10. Maintain and deploy
As documents are revised or there are changes in personnel, your crisis management team workflows will need to be updated (easy part), and then deployed across the organisation (not so easy part). Fortunately for you, we have developed a solution that not only develops workflows but also keeps them up to date across your entire organization.

LÉ Samuel Beckett rescues over 500 migrants NW of Tripoli

The crew of the LÉ Samuel Beckett located and rescued at total of 508 migrants from four separate rubber vessels during search and rescue operations conducted 50 nautical miles north west of Tripoli.

The 508 migrants were rescued in the early hours of this morning following a request from the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre.

Pic: LÉ Samuel Beckett, Naval Service HQ, Haulbowline, Cork
Photo: (Courtesy Declan Keogh)

The first rescue operation began at 02.20am and all migrants were taken on board LÉ Samuel Beckett by 12.20pm. The migrants have received food, water and medical treatment where required.

An estimated total of 2,818 migrants have so far been rescued by the LÉ Samuel Beckett since it deployed to the area of operations on 23rd September of this year when it departed Naval Service Headquarters in Haulbowline, Cork to assist Italian Authorities with humanitarian search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

Irish Aviation Authority issue Civil Defence volunteers with drone certificates

Civil Defence volunteers were presented with Certificates of competency yesterday by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) for the use and operations of Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA), better known as drones.

The presentation of certificates took place at the Civil Defence training centre at Ratra House in the Phoenix Park in Dublin yesterday, Saturday 26th November.


Twenty volunteers completed their training as SUA Operators and are now officially licensed to use a fleet of 24 Civil Defence drones in an operational or training capacity. The training involved a comprehensive 8-weekend training schedule, which consists of unmanned aircraft maintenance, flight regulation theory and practical piloting tasks.

The presentation of SUA certificates to the Civil Defence volunteers was featured on RTÉ News yesterday evening.


Speaking to RTÉ’s Sharon Gaffney at the presentation at Ratra House yesterday, Kevin Houston, Technical Officer at Civil Defence Ireland said “These drones can cover large areas of open ground and open coastal areas where it can be dangerous for volunteers to go in to search for a missing person in those areas so its increased safety ten-fold”.

Civil Defence SUA Regional Teams

Nine SUA teams were developed by the Civil Defence. Teams are deployed geographically in accordance with the Major Emergency Management Regions. Each team consists of two IAA fully licensed SUA pilots.


Civil Defence drone teams have assisted the Gardaí in a number of searches for missing persons this year. The technology can also be used to provide support to other agencies such as providing footage of areas affected by flood or fire damage.

Drones used in Clare Search operations

The new drones allow Civil Defence volunteers to cover areas of ground six times faster than previous methods and only as recent as this week, an SUA team in the Mid-West region have been using a drone while assisting gardaí and the Coast Guard in the search for Maria Hennigar, a 35 year old woman missing from the Doolin area in Co. Clare since early November.


Clare Civil Defence joined Gardai and the Doolin Coastguard in efforts to locate Ms Hennigar on Friday. As part of the search, SUA Team based in Ennis, consisting of a drone pilot and two camera operators used the new technology operating under new pilot licences secured in conjunction with the Irish Aircraft Authority (IAA).

Pre-Planning advantages

The drones can also be used for many other operational events by the SUA Teams. One licensed SUA Operator based in the Midlands Region is Damien Dollard of Laois Civil Defence.



Speaking to RTÉ News yesterday, Mr. Dollard outlined the benefits of the drones to the Civil Defence volunteers. “It allows us to check the areas that we are going to be searching from an overview before we send any volunteers in, it also allows us in pre-planning for various events so we can pre-plan for flooding events and take photos of ‘before and after’ of any incidents for planning of future operations’.

IAA orders registration of drones

With an expected increase in the sales of drones in Ireland this Christmas, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) urges all owners to register drones weighing 1 kg or more and invest in quality training on how to use the drone safely.

Ralph James, IAA Director of Safety Regulation, said “With the expected growth in the sales of drones over the Christmas period, the IAA must ensure that drones are used properly and in safe locations. They also need to ensure that they don’t cause harm to people or property, or interfere with other forms of aviation.”

“If you purchase a drone over 1 kg you are required to register it with the IAA and you need to be aware of your responsibilities. You must operate your drone in a safe and responsible manner and in full compliance with the regulations,” he said.

Registration of drones weighing 1 kg or more is a mandatory requirement. Over 6,000 drones and model aircraft have been registered with the IAA over the past year.

The legislation prohibits users from operating their drones:

•if it will be a hazard to another aircraft in flight;
•over an assembly of people;
•farther than 300m from the operator;
•within 120m of any person, vessel or structure not under the operator’s control;
•closer than 5km from an aerodrome;
•in a negligent or reckless manner so as to endanger life or property of others;
•over 400ft (120m) above ground level;
•over urban areas;
•in civil of military controlled airspace;
•in restricted areas (e.g. military installations, prisons, etc.);
•unless the operator has permission from the landowner for take-off and landing.

Job Opportunities in the HSE National Ambulance Service

The Health Service Executive have announced job opportunities for those interested in positions of Student Paramedics and Intermediate Care Operatives. The positions will be HSE National Ambulance Service.

The positions offered for Intermediate Care Operatives are in three holding positions; (i) Permanent Whole-time, (i) Permanent Part-time and (iii) on a Fixed Purpose Contract while positions offered for Student Paramedics are on a Fixed Purpose Contract.

Closing Dates:

Closing date for Student Paramedics is 6th December 2016 and it is the intention of HBS National Recruitment to hold testing in Dublin the week commencing 9th January 2017.

Closing date for Intermediate Care Operatives is 12th December 2016 and it is the intention of HBS National Recruitment to hold interviews in Dublin the week commencing 16th January 2017.

To apply, see this HSE page here 



Offaly good news for Edendery as new ambualnce base confirmed

The HSE has confirmed that a new ambulance station for Edenderry, Co. Offaly has been approved and is hoped to be completed by the end of 2018.

Currently, ambulance staff are operating out of the ambulance base on the Arden Road in Tullamore as the former Edenderry ambulance base at Ofalia House in the town was closed due to safety concerns.

NAS Ambulance Pic: Brendan Gilligan Pic

The proposed site for the new National Ambulance Service base in Edenderry is Senan Avenue and plans for the new building will comprise of an enclosed ambulance parking area, an administrative area and staff accommodation area.

The new ambulance base is expected to cost in the region of €1.7 million.

Meanwhile, pending the completion of the new home for Edenderry Ambulance Service, local representatives are calling on the HSE to provide suitable temporary accommodation in the North East Offaly town for ambulance staff to operate from a local base.

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Safety & Wellbeign campaign launched by Limerick’s Public Services

A multi-agency public services campaign was launched in Limerick today to highlight safety and wellbeing issues.

Limerick’s Public Services comprising of Limerick City and County Council, An Garda Síochána, Limerick Fire & Rescue Service and the Health Service Executive have joined forces and are working together to highlight some key messages over the coming weeks.

The campaign involves a pilot three-week radio campaign which began today under the banner of Limerick’s Public Services Working together and each week of the campaign focuses on a different area.


Week 1 relates to the impact that crashes have on people and the wider community, week 2 focuses on mental health and general wellbeing, especially during the winter period and week 3 focuses on safer communities and steps people can take to make their homes and communities more secure.

This week deals with the impact road crashes have on people and communities as well as steps that can be taken by people to help reduce the likelihood of being involved in a road crash.

Pic: (Gareth Quinn Consultant University Hospital Limerick, Inspector Paul Reidy Garda Divisional Traffic Corp and Scott Keenan Limerick Fire Service)

Inspector Paul Reidy, Head of the Limerick Garda Division Traffic Corps, Scott Keenan, Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officer with Limerick Fire and Rescue Service and Dr Gareth Quinn, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at University Hospital Limerick are all appealing to the people of Limerick to slow down, drive responsibly and take simple steps to help prevent road incidents.

Bernard Gloster, Chief Officer with the HSE Mid West said: “our public service agencies work together in many different ways, this winter we are making a special effort to enhance this. We are joining forces to provide the public with key messages of vital importance during the winter months.”


Colette Cowan, Chief Executive of UL Hospitals Group said: “I’m delighted to see the three agencies coming together to enhance and improve our relationships for the betterment of the Limerick people. The first three radio ads, focusing on road safety are an example of how the three agencies are working together to try and reduce the incidence and impact of road accidents in our region”


Chief Superintendent David Sheahan added: “An Garda Síochána is extremely conscious of the importance of State and local government agencies working together to enhance the safety and quality of life of all the people of Limerick. Enhancing road safety is a collective effort, from road engineering, traffic law enforcement, community engagement and public awareness. There is responsibility on all of us, every time we use our roads, to drive safely and think of others, failing to do so can have drastic and life changing consequences.

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Forcast is good for Civil Defence

Civil Defence Officers and volunteers are in County Roscommon attending this year’s annual national training seminar of the Civil Defence Officers Association.


Roscommon Civil Defence are the host county this year and the two-day conference involves keynote speakers and a trade exhibition area.

Among todays speakers were Met Eireann’s Meteorologist Gerry Murphy, Commander Kenneth Minehene of the Irish Naval Service; Kevin Houston, Technical Officer at the Civil Defence College and also Lorna Dennison-Wilkins, Partnership Sergeant and Police Search Adviser a Sussex Police.


The training seminar focused on the following aspects of Civil Defence responsibilities and capabilities; Extreme weather events and forecasting; ‘Operation Puntus’, the Naval Service mission in the Mediterranean; Small Unmanned Aerial Systems and Body Recovery from water.

Photo: Lorna Dennison, Police Search Adviser, Sussex Police

Roscommon Civil Defence Officer, Ray Dunne says there is a variety of training aspects involved in the seminar. “I am delighted that Roscommon is hosting this year’s annual training seminar. The speakers and their topics will focus on many of the severe winter related incidents and circumstances which many people would have witnessed and suffered last year and it is to give volunteers and officers alike, the insight into what can happen, how to deal with it and what to watch out for’.

Roscommon Civil Defence Officer Ray Dunne

Many exhibitors were showcasing their equipment, services and supplies to delegates.


Paul Kehoe, TD, Minister of State at the Department of An Taoiseach with special responsibility for Defence is expected to attend and speak ahead of the CDOA’s Gala Dinner.

Commander Kenneth Minehane, Irish Naval Service

Tomorrows seminar will focus on Joint Training opportunities between the Civil Defence and the Defence Forces and the resources available to support the management of local and national flooding emergencies.

Photos: Courtesy of Andrew Fox – Roscommon Civil Defence

Man arrested following Armed Garda intervention in Kildare

A man in his forties has been arrested by gardaí in Athy, Co. Kildare following a incident at a house in the town.

Local gardai summoned the assistance of the Armed Regional Support Unit to an incident at a house on the Carlow road, on the outskirts of the town after gardai responded to a call at around 3pm.

Members of the Regional Support Unit arrived from Newbridge a short time later.

One man was arrested and is being questioned and detained at Athy Garda station under Section 4 of the Crminal Justice Act.

File Photo: Athy Garda Station – Pic: EmergencyTimes.ie

City Firefighters raise €25,000 in Niall Tomkins Memorial Cycle

Firefighters in Galway have raised over €25,000.00 from a cycle they undertook in memory of a colleague who died.

Firefighter Niall Tomkins passed away in October 2015 following a short illness at the age of 35.

The first Niall Tomkins Memorial Cycle took place on 26th August last and the final total has surpassed the expectations of the firefighters and fundraisers, raising a total of €25,019.82. The funds raised will help patients and families who use the Oncology Unit at University College Hospital in Galway.


The fundraising team have thanked all those who supported their cycle, local businesses in Galway City, Limerick and Cork who supported the cause.

Fire fighters in Cork City and Limerick City also played a part in the memorial cycles, as too do gardaí in the three cities.


Galway Fire & Rescue Service said “A massive thanks from all the Fire-fighters in Galway City go out to all those who so generously donated to this very special cause and raising this amazing total. We’d like to give a big shout out to Niall’s wife Deirdre and the support of both Deirdre and Niall’s families and friends, you all played a massive part in the success of this event.”.

Pic: Galway Fire & Rescue Service

Pic: Cork City Fire Brigade

The team also thanked fellow fire service personnel in other city and counties around the country who helped with the fundraising efforts and raising the amount.

Firefighters from across Ireland gathered in Galway to attend Niall’s funeral and pay their last respects.


Niall first joined Galway Fire Service in 2011 where he quickly grew a love of the service and in 2014 he qualified to become a full-time fire-fighter with Galway City Fire Service. He also trained for the full-time position in Cork with Cork City Fire Brigade.

Well done to all involved. A great achievement!

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