Local Civil Defence asked to transport COVID-19 samples for testing
The HSE has asked the Civil Defence in Offaly, Westmeath Longford and Laois to transport COVID-19 samples for testing.
Some 47 volunteers from the Westmeath, Longford, Laois and Offaly Units have been activated on a rota basis since March 17. This task is likely to continue for the duration of the emergency.
The Minister with responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe confirmed today that his department officials are working with the HSE and the ambulance service as to how best Civil Defence can assist them at this time.
Paul Kehoe said: “The role of Civil Defence as set out in the 2015 Government White Paper on Defence is to support the principal response agencies in both emergency and non-emergency events.” COVID-19 is one such emergency, he added.
In the context of this public health emergency and the medical capability of Civil Defence volunteers who are trained to Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) standards, the minister said: “My officials are engaging with the Health Service Executive and National Ambulance Service to see how best Civil Defence can assist them at this time”.
Civil Defence is a statutory volunteer-based organisation established in the 1950s. Nationally, Civil Defence is managed by 35 Local Authority Civil Defence Officers with a membership of approximately 3,500 volunteers.
These volunteers give their time and talents freely to support their community on a weekly basis. All volunteers are over 18 years of age, are Garda vetted and trained in a range of disciplines.
The Department of Defence is working closely with Civil Defence officers and their volunteers. “Without volunteers, there would be no Civil Defence,” the minister stated.
He added: “Volunteering in the Civil Defence demonstrates the best of Irish society and I and the government are conscious and grateful for the work that Civil Defence volunteers put in on a weekly basis.”
To date Civil Defence has been tasked by the Health Service Executive in counties Westmeath, Offaly, Longford and Laois to transport COVID-19 samples for testing.
Volunteers in Cork and Kerry will also be transporting HSE clinicians for community testing. The volume and spread of tasks will increase over the coming days and weeks.