Army comes to the rescue to save lives
Members of the Defence Forces saved lives in County Wexford by ensuring that patients trapped in inaccessible areas were transported to hospitals and clinics for critical treatments.
Members of the 3rd Infantry Battalion from Stephens Barracks in Kilkenny also brought nurses to work in Wexford General Hospital and to nursing homes from snowed-in locations during the storm.
One of those who had reason to be grateful for the Army is Andrew Kehoe (62), a dialysis patient from Monbeg, Ballindaggin who was transported twice by Defence Forces jeep.
The Ballindaggin man was brought to the Wellstone Renal Centre in Drinagh and Waterford University Hospital for crucial treatment.
Andrew who has been receiving dialysis treatment for a few years, usually travels three times a week to his appointments in a car arranged by the HSE but this wasn't possible as Ballindaggin was one of the worst affected areas in the early part of last week.
On Wednesday last, he was collected in an Army 4x4 which was coincidentally driven by his nephew, Private Richard Walsh who also lives in Ballindaggin and brought home following his treatment in Drinagh.
On Friday, he was expecting to be picked up by the Civi Defence but conditions were so bad, it wasn't possible to reach him and he was contacted by the Wellstone Clinic on Friday night with the news that the Army was sending lorries to collect 16 people early the following day, Saturday.
Andrew was eventually brought to Waterford University Hospital by Red Cross Ambulance at 7.30 p.m. on Saturday night, along with another County Wexford patient and a nurse going to work. He received dialysis treatment there until 2.30 am and was transported back home by the Defence Forces on Sunday, much to the relief of himself and his family.
The Defence Forces were tasked as an aid to the HSE and the local authority during the severe weather conditions with the 3rd Infantry Battalion deployed in mobility and transportation roles including the collection of patients for dialysis treatment and dropping nurses to hospitals and care homes.
Army personnel used 4X4 vehicles and also snowplough and logistics vehicles in a range of tasks to support the primary response agencies and local authorities.
Almost 100 Defence Forces personnel and 30 vehicles were deployed in Wexford, Kilkenny, Waterford, Meath, Cork, Kerry, Kildare, Dublin and Donegal.
'The majority were used in support of the HSE ensuring that key staff could get to hospitals and nursing homes. We assisted palliative care nurses reaching the patients in the community as well as transporting the likes of dialysis patients to essential treatments', said a Defence Forces spokesman.
The Army also supported An Garda Siochana in mobility operations, helping county councils to clear roads and providing meals on wheels services.
Enniscorthy-based Minister of State with responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe commended the work of the Defence Forces and the Civil Defence during
'There has been an important collaboration between the Defence Forces and primary response agencies such as the HSE. This has meant that patients were able to receive the care they need during Storm Emma', said Minister Kehoe. He said the Defence Forces ceased conducting non-essential operations such as clearing snow and ice at 4pm last Thursday and were available instead for 'in Extremis' situations of life and death.