What is your career background?
I started working with South Tipperary County Council in 1993 and had various jobs in the revenue section. I have also been a Civil Defence volunteer for 35 years. Local Authority Civil Defence teams are primarily made up of volunteers but every county has a Civil Defence Officer and Assistant Officer and in 2005 I was delighted to take over as Officer.
What does your role involve?
There’s no typical day! Everything changes and can change very rapidly. It is all based on what the community needs are. In pre-covid times we would have been training volunteers, attending events, doing patient transfers, and one of our most important roles is supporting the Gardaí in search and rescue.
Covid changed everything we do. Training was significantly affected. Our main function now is to assist the principal response agencies and provide community support. We undertook patient transfers and provided support at Covid testing centres preparing test kits. We also undertook significant community support as part of the Community Call response – doing shopping for vulnerable people, collecting medication from pharmacies, providing transport for people to routine hospital appointments when they started, as well as distributing care packs. Now we are also operating in the vaccination centres, doing meet and great and post-vaccination observation. We also have initiative to support blood transfusion boards and their clinics in Tipperary.
What are the most rewarding things about working for a local authority?
The interaction with the public is great. Search and Rescue is very important and being able to reunite with their families is very rewarding.
On a personal level, it is very rewarding to see volunteers come in with very little skills and see them grow and develop through our training programmes. One of the most rewarding things is working with these people who commit so much time and effort for free. They are amazing people.
Why should someone consider a career with a local authority?
People can underestimate the work we local authority employees do. Covid has really brought into focus what we do, especially in the Civil Defence. Our volunteers are working here all day for nothing but the satisfaction of helping their communities. These people are a huge asset to the county and to support people and communities is brilliant to be part of.