Laois Fire Service are red hot at rescue challenge awards

Date Published : April 22nd, 2018    Published By : admin

A lovely night for Lovely Laois as the county’s fire and rescue service were crowned overall winners in two categories at the Rescue Organisation Ireland’s international challenge held in Tipperary yesterday.

Laois County Fire & Rescue Service received seven awards, including ‘Best Overall Extrication Team’ and ‘Best Overall Trauma Team’. The awards ceremony was held at The Thatch, Ballycommon, Co. Tipperary following an intense day of extrication and trauma demonstrations in glorious sunshine at Nenagh Fire Station.

By: Declan Keogh
This is Laois’ eight year to attend this competition and their first year to achieve the highest accolades in the challenges. The Laois Fire & Rescue Team were led by I.C. (Incident Commander) James Browne, S/O in Portlaoise.

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Photo: Declan Keogh / Emergency Times

Other fire service teams from across Ireland and Europe also took part in the event. It was a first show at the event for both Dublin Fire Brigade and Kildare Fire Service.

The Order of Malta’s Carlow unit also marked a first, not just for Carlow but for Order of Malta Ireland as they too were the first OMAC team to participate.

Carlow Fire & Rescue Service; a much respected and watched team didn’t enter an extrication team this year, however, their Trauma team did participate.

The Laois Fire & Rescue team competed in two RTC Extrication challenges including a 10-minute RTC ‘Rapid’ challenge, a 30-minute ‘Complex Scenario’ in Pit 2. The team also competed in two ‘Trauma’ challenges in both the standard and complex scenarios.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Anthony Tynan spoke to Emergency Times at the awards ceremony last night and said the Laois teams hard work paid off. “It’s a great achievement for Laois, its our eight year at this event and the first year to win overall and we are thrilled about it. This year it’s pretty much a clean sweep for Laois with Best Overall Trauma, Best Overall Extrication, Best I.C., Best Medic, Best Tech and all the way through.”

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Photo: Declan Keogh / Emergency Times

Training for the international competition is always ongoing and firefighters in each team around the country do so on their own time and at their own expenses. ACFO Tynan told Declan Keogh “This doesn’t happen in a bubble, our training has been going on for years, since that first attendance in 2010, we’ve been getting lads in together, all the year through, lads come in on their own time and expense. It’s a fantastic effort, a fantastic commitment and they get great support from their families, their stations and colleagues, and that’s al paid off for them here this year.”

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The Rescue Organisation Ireland challenges are something that Laois firefighters and fire officers, current and retired, have been involved with since they entered in 2010. One of the initial I.C’s with the Laois team is retired Station Officer Gay Lawlor from Durrow fire station. Although he has left the fire service, Gay continues to lend support to his former colleagues and team. “It’s a great achievement, I’m real proud of these lads, they go above and beyond the call of duty. Much of their work in this challenge is voluntary and it just goes to show their hearts are in it. This is part of the good side of what the fire service does, everyone knows the fire service get called out to horrible scenes and even though you might not see a really bad one for a few weeks, or months or even a year, it’s what they are trained for and here tonight is a great pay back to them for all they train for. This is the good side of it and it’s great to have a social side of things.

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Declan Keogh chatting Retired Durrow S/O Gay Lawlor

Current Incident Commanded (IC) for the Laois ROI team is Portlaoise Station Officer James Brown, who says the support comes even further than just our firefighters. “This came about in 2010 when a team was put together for Laois. Gay was the first OiC aswell as another retired Station Officer George Broomfield, Portlaoise. I’d like to mention a few people who have given us great support, our Senior Officers Anthony Tynan and Shae Brennan and of course our own Chief Fire Officer Declan Power.

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(Retired S/O Gay Lawlor and Portlaois S/O James Brown chatting to Emergency Times)

It’s great to get the support and it has to start from the top, in particular, even though our efforts and training is voluntary, it’s great that senior officers allow us to use the equipment and facilities to carry out that training and the support from our other firefighters who are not here and the ones who are covering for us too while we are down here in Nenagh for this competition. We’re not used to winning at the ROI and we’ve always been knocking on the door and to give it a clean sweep tonight is absolutely fantastic and we’re all delighted it happened.”

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Pádraig O' Longaigh presents IC James Brown with his award for Best IC
(Photo: Emergency Times)

Firefighters meet Ambulance Paramedics and Gardaí on the roadside at the scene of a collision all too often and in an instant their training and techniques kick into action. Competitions such as the Rescue Organisation Ireland internationals also provide its own challenges to the participating teams. A lot of hard work and persistence in training is key to a team’s performance at these competitions.

(Photo: James Doyle / Emergency Times)

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(Photos: James Doyle / Emergency Times)

Laois ACFO Anthony Tynan said “A trophy is lovely but really it’s about on the side of the road at 3 O’ Clock in the morning, faced with a difficult scenario, a difficult extrication  and all the skills and knowledge that’s been trained over the years comes to light and someone has an idea or sees a different technique which will help to get somebody out of a difficult spot and that’s where this really matters and its not just about the trophies, its also about the real incidents.

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Laois Team at their debrif following Extrication challenge.
(Photo: Declan Keogh / Emergency Times)

Our IC James Brown also put in a lot of work from the start. I’d like to thank all the team, and all the former members of the crews, a lot of people who have come through this team over the years, a lot of them who have also given a lot of their own time, effort and experience over the years, a lot of people who may have retired, for example, our first I.C. was Gay Lawlor and served for 47 years in the fire service in Laois, the longest in the country and its just great to see all the hard work that everyone has put in and its all paid off.


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