Kilkenny is in dire need of Civil Defence volunteers based on the latest personnel figures from the county’s unit, published on page nine of this week’s Kilkenny People.
They are the unsung heroes of emergency situations. Volunteers help out in searching for missing persons, rescues, flooding clean-ups and are even on the frontlines when ex-hurricanes hit the county.
It’s important to ask why the figures have fallen off in Kilkenny? Counties like Kerry, Monaghan, Dublin and Meath have seen their units’ personnel increase since 2013 but generally, across the country, there is a trend of numbers going down.
So, it’s important to first point out that the problem isn’t unique to Kilkenny. It’s a worrying trend nonetheless given the crucial nature of the services that the organisation provides nationwide.
But from a volunteers’ perspective, joining the ranks and making yourself available is a big commitment for any person to make.
Volunteers go through significant training - due to the high standards of the Civil Defence in this country - and that’s fine, but it can be a time commitment that puts people under pressure.
Volunteers normally attend for training for about two hours per week, according to the Civil Defence website. After completing initial training, they are also expected to make themselves available for duties such as providing first-aid cover at community events.
They may be called on at short notice too, this might include tasks like searching for missing people. These are big commitments to have to make, but they’re rewarding as well.
You’ll be taught a wide range of skills such as first aid, searching for missing people, boating skills, pumping flood waters and radio communications.
The unit in Kilkenny has had a tough time of it after the Civil Defence building burnt down in Purcellsinch in 2015 which was traumatic for the volunteers and is likely to have hit them hard.
There were 3 jeeps, 4 boats, a rescue van, an ambulance, a minibus and more - all associated with the Civil Defence - destroyed in the fire.
In fairness to the volunteers, they have soldiered on and their service to the county has never faltered. The 23 active personnel left as of last year are in need of assistance though. They need your help. They need more people from around the county to get involved and get trained up.
Each local authority has a Civil Defence Officer who oversees the organising and recruitment of volunteers. If you’re in anyway interested in joining the Kilkenny unit, why not get in touch?
The Civil Defence volunteers are crucial in Kilkenny’s hour of need - show them your support.