Ger Murphy Civil Defence College, Vol. Anthony Berry and Offaly Civil Defence Officer Raphael Fallon
Long-time member of Offaly Civil Defence Anthony Berry from Ferbane was one of 107 graduates who attended a ceremony held in Civil Defence College Roscrea on Wednesday, April 26.
This year’s event recognised successful participants from Civil Defence, Defence Forces and National Ambulance Service who successfully completed QQI (formerly FETAC) or PHEEC accredited programmes respectively.
In addition to QQI Voluntary Sector Training Skills, Manual and People Handling Awards the event included 71 graduates from the PHECC Emergency Medical Technician Programme which is a pre-hospital care award.
Visiting guests at the event included Col. Brian White, representing Vice Admiral Mellett Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Dr. Shane Knox, Education Manager of the National Ambulance Service College and Anthony Graham Chair of the Civil Defence Officers Association.
College Principal Róisín McGuire, opening the event, welcomed all and marvelled at their individual achievements. It was, she said, “hard enough to find enough time in our lives for work and family without the added challenge of participating on these intensive educational programmes”. The participant’s commitment was a sure sign that “volunteerism is alive and active in each community” noting that graduates from over seventeen different counties were present at the event.
Stephen Hall, Branch Head of Civil Defence spoke of Minister Paul Kehoe’s wonderment at the willingness of Civil Defence Volunteers to give over their time to training, participating at community events and responding to emergency events. The Minister had been particularly impressed at the recent Regional Civil Defence Competition hosted in Tara Mines in Co. Meath. Stephen thanked all who had been involved in organising and delivering the programmes to such a high standard; a fact confirmed by the presence of so many graduates from other organisations.
Civil Defence Officer Chairperson, Anthony Graham, spoke on behalf of his colleagues when he emphasised the importance that graduates keep their level of training up to the required standard and not to stop learning. He concluded with his thanks to Civil Defence College for all their hard work in preparing graduates for their various examinations.
Vice Admiral Mellet sent his best wishes to all and in particular the thirteen members of the Defence Forces who were graduating at the event. Col. Brian White, speaking on the Admirals behalf, said it was a great honour to have so many members complete the Emergency Medical Technician programme adding their knowledge and skill were a key component of the Defence Forces capability.
Dr. Shane Knox spoke of the ongoing synergy between Civil Defence and the National Ambulance Service. He drew attention to the large number of paramedics in the National Ambulance Service who are also members of Civil Defence. His comment drew laughter from the room as it was quickly noted Shane himself had recently joined Longford Civil Defence! He commented on recent examples of joint interoperable training between the Ambulance Service and the Colleges QQI Programme Director, Ger Murphy.
Tim O’Halloran of Tipperary Civil Defence asked to speak on behalf of graduates. He thanked all who were involved in the programmes and the level of education. Tim commented that it was a challenging learning experience for all however worth it. It, he said, shows you are never too old to learn.
The event concluded with a special mention of graduates Thomas Durney and Catherine Flynn from Waterford Civil Defence who were getting married the following day!