Ireland

Dara Fitzpatrick Award for Creeslough first responder

First responder, Frances Griffen helped rescue two the injured in the Creeslough explosion tragedy
First responder, Frances Griffen helped rescue two the injured in the Creeslough explosion tragedy First responder, Frances Griffen helped rescue two the injured in the Creeslough explosion tragedy

A CO Donegal paramedic who was among the first responders following the Creeslough explosion tragedy has been named the first winner of the Republic’s Dara Fitzpatrick Award.

Frances Griffin from Creeslough was awarded the honour for rescuing and treating two of the most seriously wounded at the scene of the tragedy in October 2022. Ten people, including two teenagers and a five-year-old child, died when a suspected gas explosion destroyed an Applegreen shop and apartment complex in the town.

The Dara Fitzpatrick Award was created in honour of Captain Fitzpatrick, the first female search and rescue pilot with the Irish Coastguard. Captain Fitzpatrick and three of her crew members died when their helicopter crashed into the sea off the Co Mayo coast while on a mission in 2017.

Ms Griffin, who knew all those involved Creeslough tragedy, has been a paramedic with the Republic’s ambulance service since 2002. She said it was an honour to receive the award.

“Captain Fitzpatrick was an inspirational female leader in her role with the Irish Coast Guard. She left behind a powerful legacy which has inspired me and my female colleagues in pre-hospital care.”

The chairwoman of the Irish Paramedicine Education and Research Network (IPERN), which sponsored the award, said Ms Griffin’s nomination by colleague Roddy Smith was particularly powerful.

Niamh Cummins said: “She’s just been fabulous across her career. She’s done so much work in the community and supporting her colleagues and particularly Creeslough.”

Despite knowing it was likely she would know those involved, Ms Griffin was “completely focused and professional”, Dr Cummins said.

“She was involved in removing the most seriously injured patient from the rubble,” the IPERN chairwoman said.

Both of the people rescued from the rubble by Ms Griffin survived the tragedy.