Events at risk due to Civil Defence medical licence issues

Major events in the county, including Killarney, are at risk of being either cancelled or having major financial headaches unless a stand-off between the Civil Defence and the Department of Defence is resolved before August 31.

The row centres on the medical licences issued to Civil Defence volunteers.

Two major events in the Killarney area currently in the advanced planning stages could be effected by the issues. Killarney and District Motor Club’s Historic Rally, set for November 30 needs six ambulances and 12 Emergency Medical Technicians to comply with its safety plan.

Organisers of Quest Killarney, the multi-discipline adventure race set for October 12, uses a combination of Civil Defence and commercial providers to cover their event.

The Civil Defence is a recognised training institute by the Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC), volunteers are certified from Cardiac First Response (CFR) to Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) through the Civil Defence. The national body answers to the Department of Defence.

A new administrator at the Department of Defence is refusing to sign-off licences for PHECC volunteers, it is understood that the department fears liable and insurance-claim repercussions.

If volunteer staff cannot get their PHECC licences signed-off by department officials senior Civil Defence staff have told the Killarney Advertiser that they will have no option but to remove staff from events in September and will be unable to allocate medical staff to events later in the year.

Event organisers have the option of booking commercial ambulance providers at a substantial extra costs or face cancelling their event altogether.

This weekend alone, Kerry Civil Defence is providing medical cover for the three days of Puck Fair, two nights of the Listowel Revival Festival and the Dingle Triathlon.

September events in the county that could face problems unless the issue is resolved include the Listowel Harvest Festival, the National Hillclimb Cycling Championships and the homecoming parades should the county football team be successful in winning the All-Ireland football championship.

“We are the capital of tourism in Kerry and my staff attend around 120 events a year,” Kerry Civil Defence Officer,Thomas Brosnan, told the Killarney Advertiser. “I am hopeful of a resolution but in reality the Taoiseach, as head of the Department of Defence, needs to get involved in this. August 31 is make or break, this has been going on since last November and we have been given previous extensions but I can’t see the department giving another one. Our volunteers want to be involved in these events and I want them there, but if we don’t get our licences I will have to stand them down.”

Event organisers pay the Civil Defence a nominal fee for services provided. Alternative cover is available from commercial ambulance providers at much greater costs. Not all event organisers in the county will be able to absorb the rising costs and this could force events to be cancelled.

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