Tipperary County Council is proud to support Your Council Day initiative today, this year the focus is on the people behind the essential services and the role they play in the social and economic recovery of the County post-pandemic.
Dolores Fahey, Civil Defence Officer outlines her career with Tipperary County Council and the importance of this service and its volunteers.
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, depending 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 greet 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 families is very rewarding. On a personal level, it is very satisfying to see volunteers come in with very little skills and watch 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.
It’s also brilliant to see the adaptability of our people throughout Covid. Some volunteers are now travelling further afield. A positive development is seeing crews from different areas working together and gelling in a way they wouldn’t have had the chance to before. We have also embraced technological solutions to challenges, e.g. more of our training is online.
Why should someone consider a career with their local authority?
People can underestimate the work we local authority employees do. Covid has really brought that into focus, 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.