The Irish Red Cross was key in providing large-scale first aid cover at the Special Olympics Ireland Games recently
The Special Olympics Ireland Games ran over four days from 14-17 June and saw over 2,500 competitors participate in competitions which drew attendances of up to 10,000 every day.
Some months ago, Special Olympics Ireland Games Co-ordinator Annette Codd approached the three voluntary ambulance organisations - the Irish Red Cross, the Order of Malta and St John’s Ambulance seeking assistance with medical cover at the Games and the voluntaries agreed to work together to arrange first aid cover at all the venues. The voluntaries also decided, for the first time, to arrange a single tetra radio talk group.
The first event was the Opening Ceremony which was held in Tallaght on 14 June and which was compered by Ian Dempsey and Des Cahill while entertainment was provided by musician Jake Carter. President Michael D. Higgins officially opened the games and he complimented the Irish Red Cross, among other voluntary organisations on their involvement.
Over Friday, Saturday and Sunday a joint multi-agency control room managed 15 ambulances and 60 volunteers who provided cover at a range of different events such as kayaking in Leixlip, swimming in the National Aquatic Centre and equestrian in Cherry Orchard. Altogether, the Red Cross covered 180 volunteer shifts and provided 20 ambulances over the four days. This was all co-ordinated by Area Director of Dublin Fingal Mary Watters who managed Irish Red Cross volunteer involvement in this event.
A highlight of the Games for us was when Offaly Red Cross volunteers were asked to present medals to athletes in the National Aquatic Centre in Blanchardstown.
The Special Olympics Ireland Games was a big undertaking for the organisation but there were many other events requiring cover that weekend, such as the concerts at Malahide Castle where Irish Red Cross volunteers completed 30 shifts.
Our involvement at the Games is a great example of the Irish Red Cross working with and for the community while the occasion also marked the first time the three voluntary organisations used the common talk group on Tetra which proved very effective.
On a final note, the Irish Red Cross wold like to wish our athletes who were treated by our personnel a speedy recovery.