CRITICAL, the emergency medical response charity, has announced a partnership with the National Ambulance Service (NAS) that will see NAS Staff Off-Duty Responders being able to volunteer with the charity whilst responding to potentially life-threatening emergencies in their local communities. 

As part of the partnership, CRITICAL will provide vital equipment to off-duty EMTs, paramedics and advanced paramedics who are tasked to incidents such as road traffic collisions, cardiac arrests, farming accidents and other medical or traumatic accidents. They will respond to these taskings as part of the NAS Staff Off Duty Response Scheme which has been in operation for almost 20 years.


It will cost the charity €1,500 to equip each volunteer, all of which is being funded by CRITICAL. Each responder will be provided with an Emergency Backpack containing a defibrillator, a resuscitation kit and a medical diagnostic kit.

Working closely with the National Ambulance Service, CRITICAL is now focused on  establishing a network of Volunteer Emergency Medical Responders in every county in Ireland over the next two years.

Micheál Sheridan, CEO of CRITICAL said, “Community-based and medically trained first responders are an integral part of how we as a society respond to emergencies and traumatic accidents. This partnership with the National Ambulance Service will initially see 150 off-duty NAS personnel also volunteering with CRITICAL, starting treatment while an ambulance is on its way and increasing a person’s chances of survival or improving their outcomes. Every second counts in medical emergencies. For example, in the case of cardiac arrest, a person's chances of survival decrease by 10% for every minute that elapses. Initially, we are committing €220,000 in rolling out volunteer Emergency Medical Responders to communities across Ireland. Every cent that we spend on advancing a community-based response to medical emergencies has to be fundraised or donated. We rely 100% on fundraising to achieve our mission ‘To Save Lives’.

Ger O’Dea, Community Engagement Manager with the National Ambulance said, “Building resilience in communities around Ireland is of great importance to the National Ambulance Service. Through the tremendous dedication of our patient centred staff who volunteer whilst off duty and now with this very welcomed partnership with CRITICAL, I am confident that more lives will be saved. The ambulance service will always dispatch the nearest and most appropriate resource to an emergency call but given the geographical nature of Ireland with factors such as our road networks, traffic and journey times we cannot get to every patient as timely as we would like. Enabling our communities to provide a first response to life threatening emergencies is extremely important. I would like to take this opportunity to thank CRITICAL for their hard work and dedication to providing a volunteer emergency first response network in communities around the country and we look forward to working closely with them in the future.”

CRITICAL already has a strong network of Volunteer Emergency Medicine Doctors in Mayo, Donegal, Dublin, Wicklow and Waterford and will be expanding to additional locations in the coming months. These are physicians and consultants with experience in Emergency Medicine or anaesthesiology and General Practitioners with an interest in Pre-hospital care. They have been tasked to more than 1,800 calls by the National Ambulance Service over the last two years. The charity needs to fundraise to kit out its volunteers so they can continue their life saving work. It costs the charity €1,500 to establish a new Emergency Medical Responder in a community. The cost to establish an Advanced or Critical Care Volunteer Doctor in the community can be between €25,000 and €120,000.