Tuesday, June 25, 2024


SLIEVE Croob Community First
Responders, volunteers who at a
moment’s notice – night and day –
do their best to help people in
their community when they fall
ill, has expanded.
The second intake of responders have
completed their training and went live on
Monday night.
This expansion, to over two dozen
responders sent to deal with people,
including those in cardiac arrest, is a sign
of the growing need for this charity.
Like its counterparts across the country,
it provides a vital service.
The trained volunteers respond to
medical emergencies, having been
dispatched by the Northern Ireland
Ambulance Service (NIAS).
Their role is to assist the ambulance
service by arriving swiftly at the scene and
this is particularly important in remote
rural areas, where it may take longer for
an ambulance to arrive.
It all started back in April 2021, when
Dolly’s Brae woman Loretta Gribben,
along with her son James, began
exploratory discussions with the NI
Ambulance Service and County Down
Rural Community Network.
This quickly set the wheels in motion,
and the service was launched a year later.
During the organisation’s first
operational year, from May 2022 to March
of this year, its volunteers responded to
103 alerts from NIAS across the areas of
Castlewellan, Moneyslane, Dromara,
Leitrim, Ballyward, Clanvaraghan and
With the second stage in the charity’s
expansion now live, it means they continue
to build on their success.
The service now covers 104 square
miles, extending its reach to areas now
including Kilkinamurry, Ballyroney,
Lacken, Drumlee, Kilcoo, Moneyscalp,
Burrenreagh, Bryansford, Dundrinne,
Kilmegan, Clough, Drumaroad and
Loretta has the utmost praise for the
frontline responders, who attend specific
999 emergencies across some of the
district’s remotest areas, as well as the
charity’s management team.
She is also very grateful for the
community’s generous donations, which
keep the service running.
Loretta thanked local people for their
“overwhelming” response in the relatively
short time since she revealed her plans to
set up the community responders’
“We are delighted that our 2023 first
responders have joined our existing team
as members of Slieve Croob Community
First Responders (SCCFR) and the family
of Northern Ireland’s community of
lifesavers,” she stated.
Loretta was driven to set up the service
in memory of her husband Seamus, who
died suddenly at home, and also a special
family friend who passed away in similar
Speaking on Monday, she said the
sprawling area now served by the team is
“a reflection of the need and demand”.
She said every member of SCCFR is
proud to be able to help and serve.
“We are grateful to all our volunteer
members for their time, commitment and
support in providing this crucial service
across our communities,” she said.
She also thanked NIAS for providing
training to the newest recruits.
Loretta said these additional responders
“copper fastened and endorsed” the need
for the SCCFR.
She added that its volunteers are
providing an essential service, not only to
the community they live and work in, but
also to NIAS, in terms of support.
“Our locally based first responders will
continue to attend life-threatening
situations within their communities and
support those in what may be their
greatest hour of need.”
She added that donations from
individuals, fundraising events and
businesses were a key component in the
team being able to expand.
“We want to thank individuals and
business donors for their financial support,
which has been instrumental in driving
forward phase two and ensuring that
Slieve Croob Community First Responders
goes from strength to strength.”
For further information on SCCFR and
how you can support the group’s vital
work, e-mail
You can also follow their Facebook page
or visit slievecroobcfr.webador.co.uk.
The team’s work has been praised by
local councillor Laura Devlin.
“I was delighted to hear that a number
of additional volunteers have been trained
up in recent weeks and this has allowed
the catchment area to be extended to
include a number of locations within my
district electoral area of The Mournes,”
Cllr Devlin said.
“Residents in Lacken, Drumlee, Kilcoo,
Moneyscalp, Burrenreagh, Bryansford and
Dundrinne can now be served by the
amazing Slieve Croob Community First
“Many of these areas are very rural and
we know of the demands and pressures
that the Ambulance Service continues to
face so to have the First Responders
operating in these areas is welcome and
Cllr Devlin added: “I would like to put
on record a massive thanks to the
committee and all the volunteers who
operate this service, which really does save
lives. We are indebted to all of you and
your amazing work.”
She also took the opportunity to remind
people that, in an emergency, to
“remember to always phone 999, as it is
the call handlers that task the community
first responders.”

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