Meet trained paramedic Liam O'Neill who is saving lives in his spare time by responding to the scene of car crashes and cardiac arrests in his own car when he is off duty.
About three years ago, the HSE posted a staff notice asking paramedics to volunteer unpaid for medical emergencies during their days and nights off.
The first responder scheme is a critical benefit in cases where is a delay in the availablity of an ambulance to bring a person to hospital, especially in the case of an a cardiac arrest.
Liam who has worked with the National Ambulance Service for the past 30 years, was the only person in the Wexford area to put his name forward and since then, he has responded without payment or reward to a few hundred emergencies, helping to save many lives.
When an emergency arises, Liam receives a text from the Ambulance Service informing him of the nature and location of the emergency.
He drives in his own car to the patient and administers assistance at the scene, using medical equipment supplied to him by the HSE for the purpose, and staying with the patient until an ambulance arrives, as he is not covered to transport anyone to hospital.
The staff volunteer scheme of first responders for which Liam signed up, is helping to combat shortfalls in the Ambulance Service, where there are delays in ambulances reaching accident and emergency scenes. There are two ambulances available during day-time midweek hours in the Wexford area and one at nights and weekends.
On several occasions, when the available Wexford ambulance/s have been called out, back-up ambulances have had to come from areas such as Wicklow and Kilkenny, leading to long delays.
'I've been to hundreds of incidents in the past three years', said Liam who has just acquired a defibrillator through the generosity of Wexford Credit Union and the Ger Devereux Fund in Enniscorthy.
'I have the ambulance radio and other ambulance equipment supplied to me by the HSE but I didn't have a defibrillator. I wrote to various businesses in Wexford and the Credit Union was the only one that responded'.
Having a defibrillator will greatly increase the chances of survival of anyone who has suffered a cardiac arrest.
'I don't mind doing it. I don't follow sport. I'd only be sitting at home anyway. You can save a life and that's what I've done several times. Now that I have the defibrillator, I can shock someone. Their chances are much better, at a percentage up in the high 90's if you get there quickly'.
'I'm getting nothing for it. I just do it. Nobody says well done or anything', said Liam who has been at many incidents including road traffic crashes, cardio respiratory emergencies, falling accidents etc.
Liam would like to thank Wexford Credit Union and Mick Devereux of the Ger Devereux Fund for providing him with the defibrillator.