Major festivals and sporting events taking place later this year could be in doubt if the debacle over the level of medical care that Civil Defence volunteers can provide is not sorted out, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

The Roscommon-Galway TD indicated that the level of medical care currently provided by Civil Defence volunteers could be downgraded if the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) does not renew its approval after the 31st of July this year.

Additional measures introduced by the PHECC in relation to on-site visits, for example, and confusion around operational control due to the unique make-up of the Civil Defence could lead to the organisation’s approval not being renewed, Deputy Fitzmaurice explained.

As it stands, the Civil Defence is under the umbrella of the Department of Defence; it provides help with regards to training, finance and policies. However, local authorities are responsible for operational matters within their own boundaries.

Commenting on the matter, Deputy Fitzmaurice said: “If a solution is not found in order for the PHECC to renew the Civil Defence’s approval beyond July, the services volunteers currently provide will be greatly reduced.

“While they will be able to administer basic first aid, they won’t have a licence to practice as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), paramedics or advanced paramedics. There are approximately 300 EMTs serving with the Civil Defence at the moment.

“The Civil Defence won’t be able to transport patients via an ambulance. They won’t be licensed to transport patients in the event of flooding etc. Civil Defence ambulances will basically have to be parked up.

“When a person is injured or needs to go to hospital in an emergency, they will only see an ambulance – the badge on the side of it won’t matter to them.

“Civil Defence volunteers provide an invaluable service to local communities, especially in rural Ireland. Coming into the summer period, these volunteers will be particularly busy with festivals and sporting events.

“People attending these events feel reassured when they see Civil Defence volunteers on standby, because if an incident does occur, they are more than capable of dealing with it.

“The downgrading of the medical care that Civil Defence volunteers could provide would be yet another hammer blow for rural Ireland, especially given the closure of so many other critical services in the recent past,” the independent TD said.

Deputy Fitzmaurice called on the Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe, along with the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to investigate the issue as a matter of urgency.

Concluding, he said: “Some co-operation and common sense is needed here to ensure that the Civil Defence can continue to provide the level of medical care that it currently does.”

Michael Fitzmaurice TD – 0861914565

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