Friday, 30 April 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I too offer my condolences to Senator Mullen on the passing of his father.
I raise with the Leader the importance of community first responders, CFR, and the magnificent voluntary work they do in many communities. I am sure the Leader is well aware of it and I know locally in County Kildare there are many groups operating. The issue with community first responders is the need to vaccinate these volunteers who have saved lives and are, in many cases, back operating within our communities.
The issue was raised with me recently by Councillor Níall McNelis, among others. Councillor McNelis raised the concerns of the Salthill-Knocknacarra cardiac first responders who, as an example of the great work carried out by so many of these community groups, had an average of 256 activations in the two years prior to Covid, dealing with three to four cardiac arrests each month in their area.
We know the cardiac community first responders voluntary members work with the National Ambulance Service. They respond to 999 emergency calls in their local areas on a daily basis and to calls received from the emergency call centres and dispatched by the National Ambulance Service. In recent weeks, many CFR groups have been returning but, despite requests by their members through the ambulance services for the Covid vaccination, they have been refused on the basis they are not deemed healthcare workers. We now have a situation where some groups have returned and are responding to calls to persons who have not been vaccinated themselves. Other CFRs are manning Covid test centres or vaccination centres and, again, are unvaccinated. The National Ambulance Service has provided groups with personal protective equipment but, given the work they do in all our communities in helping to save lives, surely they should be vaccinated. I would appreciate if the Leader would write to the Minister on this important matter.