Order of Malta steps in to help get Wicklow patients to hospital
Order of Malta volunteers around Co Wicklow have been mobilised around the clock since snow began to fall last Wednesday.
The various teams of volunteers have responded to numerous calls for assistance, primarily medical call-outs and patient transfers.
Earlier in the week, the Rathdrum Order of Malta put out a Facebook post asking to be contacted if anyone needed help, particularly elderly members of the community.
One man in Laragh had to be assisted by the Rathdrum unit when an ambulance wasn't able to reach his home due to the level of snow on the road.
'We were available to help but thankfully no one got too sick during the height of the storm. People generally took heed of the warnings and stayed inside,' said Rachel Pender of Rathdrum Order of Malta.
Bernard Hayden, the Officer in Charge of the Order of Malta in Bray, said that the unit had responded to 25 calls, including 'emergency calls, urgent patient and staff transfers to communities all over the county and as far as Wexford town.'
'Conditions proved extremely difficult or impassable in some circumstances, even in our 4x4 ambulance.' Mr Hayden said he was 'immensely proud' of all the volunteers as well as the many people to helped them to get to sick and vulnerable people.
Nationwide, the Order of Malta responded to over 400 call-outs since the cold snap kicked in.
Auxiliary and voluntary ambulance services made up of the Order of Malta, the Irish Red Cross, and St John's Ambulance, worked with the State to deal with emergency calls in the snow at the Joint Voluntary Command Centre in Dublin.
They receive prioritised calls from the National Ambulance Service and delegate them to available local volunteer units who have 4x4 ambulances and other resources.
Jeanette Wright of the Order of Malta said: 'We were receiving live calls from people who needed assistance, including people from Wicklow, Bray and Greystones. The east coast was particularly badly hit. We also assisted the HSE with their patients.
'There were also Wicklow people being discharged from hospital who needed assistance in getting home, mostly from St Vincent's Hospital,' she said.