The Irish Red Cross completed a staggering 272 call-outs over the course of the Beast from the East and Storm Emma.
Two days before there was any snow in Ireland, the Irish Red Cross started making preparations and by the following day, we had put 120 vehicles on standby across the country. These vehicles included road ambulances, stretcher-bearing off-road ambulances, and 4x4 vehicles with passenger accommodation. The exact location of these vehicles, on a county-by-county basis, was reported to the HSE. In addition, Irish Red Cross support vehicles such as the Fire and Emergency Support Vehicle and an Operational Support Unit - all equipped with generators - were also put on standby.
On Friday 2 March, Irish Red Cross volunteers attended a recording-breaking 60 call outs in the southern region. The Irish Red Cross has never dealt with this volume of calls - not alone in one region - but nationally - in one day before. And in Wexford there was a real hero; Paddy Redmond and his trusty Landrover Defender.
As the Enniscorthy Guardian so aptly put it, “the rugged Landrover Defender of Enniscorthy Red Cross could be seen smashing through the snow and braving treacherous conditions to help those in need. Equipped with a crew of three brave volunteers, carrying shovels in case they had to dig themselves out of the snow, the jeep was on the road from early morning helping those in need.” Bruce Lett, Tom Shortt, Catriona Whelan and Sally Flynn worked alongside Paddy and they attended no less than 23 call outs over the course of just two days. The volunteer crew were involved in a medical emergency and a fall which were both taken to Wexford General Hospital, a fracture to Waterford University Hospital, 16 transports to the dialysis unit and four transports of key nursing staff to Wexford General Hospital.
Paddy and his volunteer crew also rescued people from their homes where they had been snowed in with no power, water or heat.
We’re down here doing the best we can,” the Area Director of Units for Wexford said on Sunday 4 March. “The four-wheel-drive ambulance has been all over the place. It’s the star of the show. We went places you can’t get with a tractor.
“It’s an old army Defender and people laughed at me when we bought it," continued Paddy. "We pumped a lot of money into doing it out to our own specifications and now there’s nowhere it won’t go. We passed all types of vehicles on the road.
"Over two and a half days we’ve put in €300 of petrol," noted Paddy. "We finished at a quarter to 11 last night (Saturday) having started at 7.30am. On Friday we started at 6.30am. We had great support from the Gardaí and people locally. Anytime we were having trouble, a call would be made and we’d have someone out with a tractor or a digger to help us out. The amount of co-operating and help was amazing," concludes Paddy.