Sunday March 20th 2016 started out like any other Irish Red Cross duty day for volunteers in the charity’s Mallow Unit.
They were to provide pre-hospital emergency patient care and ambulance cover at the Mallow 10 Road Race, an annual event which they have covered many times. They expected the day ahead would bring the usual share of sprains, strains, trips and falls, in addition to some fatigued and medically unwell patients, found at all such sporting events. However, this day was to be anything but usual.
The team arrived early, three Irish Red Cross ambulances (each with a crew / team of Nurses, Paramedics, EMTs and EFRs, all trained to the highest professional standard) and a mobile control unit to coordinate their voluntary activities on the day, as they reviewed and treated people at the event. Knowing the route well, the three ambulance teams assumed their designated locations along the route.
The race began at 12.30pm, one thousand plus runners and walkers set out on the 10 mile route. Shortly afterwards, one of the Red Cross ambulances received a call from a race steward to say they had heard a loud bang. The steward believed there had been a vehicle accident, but couldn’t see from their location. The ambulance crew set out to investigate. What they found was a scene of complete and utter devastation.
On the main road, with the runners heading towards it, was a multi-vehicle road traffic collision, spread out over an area of a 200 meters or more. Straight away the crew could see that a truck, a people carrier and a horse box, were involved along, with a number of other vehicles. As the first to respond, the Red Cross ambulance crew quickly set about assessing the scene, making the area safe and locating all casualties on scene at the incident. They called for backup from the emergency services and their Red Cross colleagues on duty with them at the race event and set about treating the injured.
A number of people were trapped in vehicles, their injuries ranging from shock and minor injuries to haemorrhage, fractures, head trauma and critical injuries. The Irish Red Cross volunteers, who are trained to a professional level enabling them to offer the highest standard of care, treated multiple casualties over an extended period of time on scene due to the entrapment of a number casualties within their respective vehicles. Irish Red Cross personnel accompanied many of the patients to hospital. All members of the Mallow Unit of the Irish Red Cross worked side by side with the Health Service Executive (HSE) National Ambulance Service (NAS), the Emergency Aeromedical Service (Medevac 112), East Cork Rapid Response (ECRR – Dr. Hugh Doran), local Fire and Rescue Services and An Garda Síochána, in addition to doctors who had been partaking and competing in the event itself, all of whom arrived soon after the crash. Sunday was an inter-agency effort to save lives and ease suffering.
Sadly, one gentleman died despite the efforts of all those on scene. The gentleman’s family had come to the crash scene and were comforted by Red Cross members from the Mallow Unit , who cared for the deceased and his family with the utmost empathy, dignity and respect. Prayers were offered for the deceased and his family by a local priest and the afore mentioned Irish Red Cross volunteers at the incident. Davie O’Sullivan, Irish Red Cross member at the scene, and A&E Nurse and Paramedic, said, “On behalf of the Irish Red Cross I would like to express our deepest sympathies and convey our condolences to the deceased gentleman's family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this most difficult time. I would also like to convey our best wishes to all those injured and we hope they make a full and timely recovery”. Mr. O’Sullivan, who is also Chairman of the Mallow Branch of the Irish Red Cross, praised his fellow colleagues, the voluntary members of the Mallow Unit of the Irish Red Cross, and all members of the responding emergency services for the “care, empathy, compassion and dignity which they showed towards the deceased gentleman, his family and everyone injured and involved in Sunday`s incident”.
Mallow volunteers lead inter-agency effort following multi-vehicle incident