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Robert Fennell & John Kearney

West Cork Rapid Response / Level 1

Awardee 2009

West Cork Rapid Response / Level 1
Catherine Buckley
Michelle Gallen

In emergency medicine, it is well established that a patient’s chances of survival are greatest if they receive medical attention within a short time after a severe injury. This is known as the ‘golden hour’.

The Challenge

Many parts of West Cork are more than 2 hours by road to Accident & Emergency facilities. Achieving treatment within this “golden hour” is therefore highly unlikely.


The Idea

Robert, himself a pedestrian casualty, knows well the benefit of that ‘golden hour’. John, a local Diving School owner, is also keenly aware of the risks of delaying vital treatment. Together they started West Cork Rapid Response to provide a dedicated Rapid Response Vehicle, the first fully equipped mobile A&E unit in the area.


The Impact

Using a rota of doctors and drivers on-call, the voluntary doctor can attend the scene and deliver what can ultimately be life-saving treatment. In its first 6 months, the service has had close to 60 callouts, 6 people have benefited from transplants and an astonishing 8 lives have been saved.

The project makes the best use of the existing skills and resources in the community. Robert and John aim to provide a further two vehicles for the area and firmly believe that this model can be replicated around the country.

The Rapid Response vehicle and volunteers have been declared National Ambulance service assets in serving all of West Cork. The vehicle and volunteers are equipped to provide pre-hospital Critical Care as per the rigorous standards laid down by both the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland and the Pre-hospital Emergency Care Council.

Between 2010 and 2012, and with the support of the Arthur Guinness Foundation, the service set up a separate body, Irish Community Rapid Response, to develop a model to develop rapid response groups throughout Ireland. It is currently in discussions with more than 20 other communities and has established a successful Rapid Response group in West Cork. In 2013 ICRR won an Impact award from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.


It is now time to stand up and make a difference. Local solutions to local problems are needed.

Robert Fennell

Robert Fennell & John Kearney, Impact Award, 2009

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