Pandemic sees role for more Civil Defence volunteers

THE Civil Defence team in Kilkenny is to increase its 34 volunteers to 50 volunteers in 2021, as the demand for their services has increased in the 12 months of the pandemic.
The purpose of the Civil Defence team is to be ready in an emergency to give support to the principle response agencies in the county, including An Garda Siochana, the HSE, Fire & Rescue Service and other service areas in the council.  This has never been needed more than over the past 12 months.
To keep their skills up the volunteers engage with the community by covering sporting and charitable events with first aid support and safety boat cover.
The four main areas where assistance is given are in transport, casualty, Search and Rescue and Flood Response.  The Civil Defence are called on during severe weather, to assist at community events and to back up emergency services.
Katherine Peacock, Civil Defence Officer, outlined to members of the County Council at its February meeting the part the volunteers played in the Covid-19 response throughout 2020.  The volunteers completed 350 Covid-19 related duties with volunteers giving 2,112 hours of time and effort supporting their communities. Duties included packing and delivering 340 care boxes to the elderly, children with disabilities and vulnerable families, 100 medical transports to hospitals, doctors and Covid Assessment Units and administrative support to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service for five weeks.
This valuable service is funded by both the Department of Defence and Kilkenny County Council.
In 2020 the Civil Defence received just under €200,000 in funding which helped to secure new vehicles and equipment for an increasing number of volunteers to provide critical community support when needed. The service will receive further support in 2021 with the addition of a full-time Assistant Defence Officer.
Director of Services Mary Mulholland welcomed the increasing number of Civil Defence volunteers and thanked all those who have given their time to train and provide assistance to their communities throughout the pandemic, in particular.
Future plans for the service include the addition of a Drone team, the purchase of a 4×4 ambulance and the increased numbers of volunteers.
Cathaoirleach Andrew McGuinness congratulated Katherine Peacock on her dynamic contribution adding: “We look forward to the continued development of the Civil Defence in Kilkenny and acknowledge their real contribution to communities all over our County when they need it most.”

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