The Cork & Kerry Region has a very hands-on approach in Emergency Management Co-Ordination and an event such as the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle brings its own particular challenges for the huge numbers of volunteers and participants covering a large geographical area, which can be demanding on resources.
Now in its 35th year, the 175 km Ring of Kerry cycle has raised over €15m for 150 charities, supported by 1400 volunteers on the route. The events medical cover is a huge undertaking for the Voluntary Emergency Services who invest so much time every year into planning in the run up to the event.
Kerry Civil Defence were the lead voluntary agency, and worked along side An Garda Síochána and the National Ambulance Service for their involvement in the event.
Twenty-five response resources from the Civil Defence, Order of Malta, Irish Red Cross and the Irish Community Rapid Response were spread across the route with 3 fully operational medical centres established in Killarney, Caherciveen and Kenmare towns. Crews were made up of volunteers from various services from Galway, Tipperary, Laois, Cork North, Cork West and Cork South who assisted services in Kerry.
The Order of Malta (OMAC) managed the Killarney medical centre, while Caheriveen was managed by the Civil Defence (CD) and Kenmare by the Irish Red Cross (IRC).
In addition to the medical centres, there were also 12 static First Aid posts around the Ring with volunteers from the various charities who will benefit from the monies raised by the charity cycle. A team of six Cycle Responders from Kerry Civil Defence were also in duty for the event.
(Kerry Civil Defence Officer Tom Brosnan with Cycle Responders Team)
Communication and Interoperability
A Communications Control Room was set-up by Kerry Civil Defence in the Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney. This was managed by a Chief Medical Communications Controller Paul Baynham and the control room was staffed by a Supervisor, 2 Dispatchers and a call-taker at all times.
(L-R: 2nd Officer Seán Horgan, Controller & Drone Operator, Kerry CD, Cmdr Paul Baynham, Kerry CD, Shaun O’Hagan, Controller, Ballinaslow CD)
The on-site Communication Unit from Laois Civil Defence was also brought in for the event. This was managed by Commander Fergal Conroy and 1st Officer Damian Dollard, with additional controllers. The Laois control unit was operational from 5am to 8pm and ambulance crews met at the control unit where they were briefed in the morning of the event.
(1st Officer Damian Dollard and Commander Fergal Conroy, Laois Civil Defence)
Given the size of this event and the ground being covered, communication is a vital cog in the operational wheel of the Ring of Kerry Cycle. TETRA Ireland ensured that all organisations, both Principal and Voluntary, were provided with the assistance and support throughout the day and ensured that each group were able to communicate to each other on the TETRA 1-Talk group system.
Speaking to EmergencyTimes.ie tonight, Chief Medical Communications Controller Paul Bayhnam told Declan Keogh “The Interagency Co-operation between all organisations is truly remarkable. I would like to extend our thanks on behalf of Kerry Civil Defence, to the Volunteer Doctors, Nurses and first aiders along the route, members from IRC & OMAC and to our own volunteers”.
(Chief Medical Communications Controller, Cmdr. Paul Baynham and left, 2nd Officer Seán Horgan, Controller)
An Garda Síochána are usually the lead authority at major events, and while Principal Response Agencies (PRA) and Voluntary Emergency Services (VES) work hand-in-hand at large scale events such as this, together, their knowledge, experience and individual capabilities are relied on by one another.
Garda Brendan Donovan, Killarney Garda Station was the liaison between the control room and Garda Units and this also ensured that any priority information, alerts or assistance was managed accordingly. During the event, two missing children were located by one of the voluntary ambulance crews.
Safety Planning and Resource Management
The Southern Region has a very hands-on relationship in Cork & Kerry for Emergency Management and an event such as the Ring of Kerry Cycle brings its own particular challenges for the huge numbers of volunteers and participants covering a large geographical area, which can be demanding on resources.
Sergeant Peter Murphy, Emergency Response Co-Ordinator in the Southern Region told Emergency Times “Developing a culture of interagency cooperation has been a key objective for Regional South Emergency Management. Obvious areas of common application are communications, safety planning and resource management. Other less obvious areas of mutual benefit are the information management system, logistical support and resource resilience training”.
(Garda Sergeant Peter Murphy, Southern Region Major Emergency Co-Ordinator)
Sergeant Murphy says experience and knowledge among the services are key. “The PRA’s (Gardaí, Fire & Ambulance Services) rely heavily on the support and participation of the VES (Civil Defence, Irish Red Cross, Order of Malta, Coast Guard, RNLI etc) and these volunteers provide a very professional service and have built-up a huge amount of knowledge and experience over the years and this is key to a successful operation or rescue”.
(Photos: Courtesy Kerry Civil Defence)
Paul Baynham, Chief Medical Communications Controller, Kerry Civil Defence said TETRA has replaced an antiquated system. “The event is a credit to each of the volunteers that gave up their weekend and we should be all so proud of our involvement in the event. When we first introduced TETRA Communications it was a massive undertaking and it replaced an antiquated system. Now, six-years on, and all of the VES were able to communicate with ease and in such a professional manner. I’m extremely proud of what we have achieved in Kerry” he said.