Thursday 22 March 2018

Lack of members could see Red Cross disband

John Kavanagh, Ray Lacey and Michelle O’Shea at the Gorey Red Cross AGM.
John Kavanagh, Ray Lacey and Michelle O’Shea at the Gorey Red Cross AGM.

Fintan Lambe

GOREY Red Cross is in crisis, and as it marks its 75th anniversary, it said this week it risks disbanding, unless new members come on board.

Just six members attended the organisation's AGM last week. 'Numbers-wise, we are in trouble,' admitted treasurer John Kavanagh. 'Only three people are currently trained and qualified to get into the ambulance, and we have three or four more basic first-aiders. It's reaching a crisis.'

'We have trained people up,' he added. 'But as soon as you get them trained, jobs come along and they have to leave.' He said that some of the same people have been involved for years, but 'no new members are coming in'. 'We said that if we don't manage to get new members in, we'll have to seriously consider where we're going in the future,' said John.

'We're 75 years here, and ironically, this is one of our toughest years. Numbers have been falling for the past 10 to 12 years, but it's grown to crisis level in the past ten to 12 months. We lost two EMTs, one to Sligo, and one to the UK.'

The Red Cross provides medical cover for public events such as the Gorey Parade, various Point to Point races, and other events, and in past years, also provided cover at the Town Festival.

'We will run an open night to try to get the message out about the work we do,' said John. 'We need to attract people who are qualified to provide cover in the ambulance. For anyone who is qualified as an EMT, and wants some practical experience, this is a great way to get it.'

He said that Red Cross members get a sense of satisfaction knowing they have helped someone, from providing a plaster for a graze to assisting with a serious injury. The service also provides patient transport where necessary.

The branch is also suffering financially, and needs to raise funds to keep the ambulance on the road.

The organisation trains on Monday nights at Gorey Fire Station from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and there are also social outings and weekend courses. 'It's an opportunity to get a skill and a national qualification,' said John. 'We would hate to see the local branch go, as it plays an important role in society. We have to be hopeful that we won't close, but we really need new people to come on board.'

For details see the Gorey Red Cross Facebook page, call to the fire station on a Monday night, or contact John at 087 9276521.

The new committee elected at the AGM were: Chairman Ray Lacey; vice-chairman Pat Noonan; secretary Michelle O'Shea; treasurer John Kavanagh; PRO Caroline Kavanagh; and committee member Beryl Kelly.

Gorey Guardian