Home  COVID-19 Response  Volunteers help to evacuate care home residents

Members of the Irish Red Cross were on hand to assist in an evacuation from a care home in Donegal over the Easter weekend.

Last week it took just minutes for Irish Red Cross volunteers to congregate when they were called upon to help with an emergency evacuation in a care home.

Valerie McGrath, Assistant Area Director of Units at the Donegal branch of the Irish Red Cross, describes how quickly volunteers jumped into action.

“We’re not heroes, this is what we signed up for”

“I got a phone call that morning that we were needed at the care home. We have a group chat for training so straight away I put a message into the group saying, ‘Right folks, I need three crews straight away, let me know who’s free’. That was at three minutes past eleven and inside of minutes I had three crews filled, so that’s six volunteers, and we were all together on the ground within 25 minutes. Everyone is really eager to help out.”

At the request of the HSE, the IRC volunteers responded immediately and began the task of transporting the vulnerable residents from their nursing unit to a nearby hospital.

Since there was the potential risk that the residents had been exposed to Covid-19, all volunteers were supplied with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – and had previously been trained by the IRC in its proper use - but Valerie says that their primary concern was transporting the residents safely.

“We were provided with full PPE so there were precautions put in place and then we could just concentrate on getting them to somewhere safer. Every one of us was like, ‘Well this is what we’re here for’. Nobody there is thinking ‘oh we’re heroes’ – this is just what we signed up for.

“There was one man who had misplaced his hearing aids and with everything going on nobody had time to tell to him what was happening so I found a piece of paper and wrote down and explained to him that they were being moved. We were able to reassure the residents who might have been worried otherwise.”

Over the course of the day, three Irish Red Cross ambulances, as well as ambulances from the HSE and Civil Defence, evacuated the nineteen residents and safely transported them to alternative care settings.

During the Covid-19 crisis Irish Red Cross members have also:

 Transported people to chemotherapy appointments and other vital medical appointments

Delivered 20,000 Covid-19 safety information leaflets

Carried out well-being checks for vulnerable people in the community

Delivered prescriptions for older or isolating people

Organised food deliveries for older or isolating

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Irish Red Cross

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