Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Meteor and The Whale

Well what a beginning and end the last weekend gave our small town on the South East Coast of Ireland. It goes to show you never know and just about anything is possible!  On Friday I was a little late to learn of the unfortunate stranding of the large Sperm Whale that had caused a large furore over on the Cunnigar as hundreds swooped to witness for themselves as the magnificent but tragic creature's demise approached. The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group were quick on the scene and you can only feel for these people who give so much to the study, preservation, and protection of some of our more incredible and beautiful visitor's to our coastline.  Ironically Sunday past was the Whale Watch day at Ardmore, an event I can gladly say I attended in a previous year and was able to discuss and learn so much about the species, I highly recommend anyone to do this in the future especially to bring the children along and awaken their interest in the natural world around them, not seeing a whale/dolphin is irrelevant (great if you do) but becoming a little more knowledgeable far outweighs that and I guarantee the kids will happily watch for hours, if the weathers good bring a picnic and once you know a little more you can always have your own whale watch day whenever you like. And it's for free, hooray!

This was the 68th such stranding of a whale on the Irish coastline and we can only hope that what this rare but unfortunate close encounter brings is a greater awareness and appreciation to many of us.

Our second event occurred late Monday night early Tuesday morning at approximately 00:10 and whereas the previous extraordinary occurence was of the sea, this one was very much of the sky. Upon looking out towards the majestic Comeragh Mountains I saw a spectacular (albeit short) display that took a moment to comprehend.  The eye only sees what the mind knows and the relationship between the two became strained for an instant as an extremely bright and large green light streaked nonchalantly across the dark night sky. Now this only lasted for around 1.5 seconds (maybe due to cloud?) but it certainly wasn't forgettable, questionable perhaps had my eyes deceived me? 

After putting out a manic tweet in the hope of contacting other witnesses I found that there were other Tweeters from Dundalk and as far as South West Scotland were doing the same thing.

"@AstronomyIrl saw a massive flash of light near Dundalk Co.Louth last night about 12:15, thought I was seeing things. #Fireball??"

From @NotHereFurlong

"Anyone in SW Scotland see the massive freball at 00:10 BST. It lit the sky around us and the side of the cottage"

From @GallowayAstro

Thank God I wasn't imagining things and thanks to Dungarvan Brewing Company's Cormac O Dwyer who responded locally having also seen the phenomena

"@DungarvanDiary Just after midnight two nights ago? Saw that too."

From @CormacO'Dwyer
Early Tuesday morning Astronomy Ireland  confirmed that a fragment of a comet had entered the earths atmosphere above Ireland, and how lucky it was to witness it.  I have filed a report with them and encourage any other witnesses to do so.

Closest likeness I could find in video though didn't breakup

Now at 300 euro a gram, if only I could find a piece of the darned thing!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

One Of Our Ambulances Is Missing?........or will be!

Last weekend over 1000 residents of nearby Youghal (our neighbours down the road) took to the streets in what was thankfully a peaceful protest amidst a week full of disturbing images of public disorder and violence in England where lack of public services were in evidence as the dwindling police force fought against ridiculous odds whilst buildings and businesses burnt to the ground with fire crews powerless.

The emergency services are integral in the safety and security of every community and it is somewhat comforting to know they are there should, God forbid, any bad fortune befall us or anyone close.

The people of Youghal know that, as do we here in Dungarvan, and that is why they marched against proposals to replace their town ambulance service with a first responder paramedic vehicle. "A first what" you ask? Well a first responder vehicle is firstly not an ambulance and according to what I found is little more than a car with a first aid kit on board, hardly fitting for use in any medical emergency for a town of around 7,000 people. The person in charge of this vehicle, whilst obviously doing their best would be;

A certified first responder is a person who has completed a course and received certification in providing pre-hospital care for medical emergencies. They have more skill than someone who is trained in basic first aid but they are not a substitute for advanced medical care - Wiki

which is hardly inspiring for anyone in need of urgent attention.

But how does this affect Dungarvan?

Well quite simply it is envisaged that any need of an ambulance equipped with paramedics for a call out to Youghal would primarily be drawn from one of four areas, and yes you guessed it Dungarvan is one of those concerned.

Quoting The Irish Times article by Orla Kelleher where I learnt of this on Monday last

"Protesters said that if a medical emergency happens from next month, the patient will have to wait at least 20 minutes before an ambulance from Midleton, Dungarvan, Fermoy or even Cork city arrives to take them to hospital."

So statistically at least (whilst I am sure every effort would be made to avoid any shortage) one in four ambulance call outs to Youghal would be from Dungarvan. Including mileage, treatment times and possible hospital transfers this equates to a considerable time away from home base. And then it rolls on......if we fall short where do we have to depend on for back up? And can you or I afford to?

Talks are continuing between the Save Youghal Ambulance Group and the HSE and I think we should all be keeping a close eye on this one as Dungarvan's health may depend on it. 

Slainte Mhath