The National Ambulance Service (NAS) CISM Committee announces new Regional Coordinators and a Restructured Committee with two new Joint Chairs

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Committee and Programme was established in 1997 as a partnership between the then regional health boards, ambulance service staff representative bodies and the Department of Health & Children. Today the Programme is led by the National Co-ordinating Committee which includes representatives of all the stakeholders. On the 16th November last, the CISM Committee in collaboration with the CISM team at NUI Maynooth ran a CISM Seminar in Renehan Hall on the University Campus, aimed at NAS staff with an interest in CISM and the NAS CISM research findings.

CISM Seminar at NUI Maynooth

The seminar began with a presentation by the Joint Chairs, Mr David Maher and Mr Macartan Hughes on the Strategic Plan for the CISM Committee and an overview of the new CISM developments and structures within the NAS.
The findings of the CISM research project, currently being undertaken at the Department of Psychology at NUI Maynooth, were presented by Sharon Gallagher. Sharon currently works on a number of projects commissioned by the National Ambulance CISM Committee and is funded by the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) and the former Health Services National Partnership Forum. Mairead Bracken, Research Assistant, also presented on the preliminary findings of her PhD thesis on Quality of Life amongst retired ambulance personnel. The overall aim of the CISM research is to develop an appropriate evidence base around Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) in the Irish National Ambulance Service with a view to informing policy and practice in the area of health promotion for ambulance personnel. For further information on the NUI Maynooth Project see:

The keynote and final segment of the seminar was presented by Ms Brigitta O’Doherty, Office of Emergency Planning and Chair CISM Network Ireland.

Liam O’Neill (NAS Area South) being presented with his award by David Maher, Joint Chair CISM Committee.

NAS CISM Committee Awards Peer Support Workers

The CISM Seminar also provided the opportunity to recognise the outstanding service provided by Peer Support Workers (PSWs). The annual awards were presented by the Joint Chairs Mr David Maher (IARC) and Mr Macartan Hughes, NAS LT to a Peer Supporter in each NAS region.

Ambulance Personnel have a unique and pressurised role in society; they provide prehospital emergency care, often under pressurised circumstances and they frequently face the harsh realities of society. Over the last 10 – 15 years most emergency services internationally have implemented a Critical Incident Management System where PSWs provide peer support to colleagues to assist them to cope with trauma interventions including management of Critical Incidents. They form an important element of the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) system which also comprises stress awareness training programmes and regional peer support coordinators.

Geraldine Meehan (NAS Area West) being presented with her award by David Maher, Joint Chair CISM Committee.

  The peer support system provides a forum whereby staff can discuss issues arising in their work with a view to learning from, and providing support to, each other. All peer support in the ambulance service is conducted on a voluntary and confidential basis. PSWs take part in a structured training course and regular ‘refresher’ courses. They are then available to assist their colleagues, both within and outside working hours, and discuss any problems that may arise in their occupational role and activities. 

Since the foundation of the CISM Programme a corps of trained Peer Supporters has been working on a completely voluntary basis to assist ambulance service staff who are affected by critical incident stress. The awards gave regional ambulance staff the opportunity to nominate a Peer Supporter from their region whom they considered deserved special recognition. This may be because they had benefited personally from the help of the PSW or maybe because they had observed how the PSW had assisted a colleague(s).

Nominations were put forward by regional ambulance service staff and one award was given to a PSW in each of the three NAS regions. Each regional winner was presented with an engraved crystal piece at the Seminar. Congratulations to all those who were nominated and to those who were awarded:

Ambulance Service Region Winner 
NAS Area West
Geraldine Meehan
NAS Area North Leinster
Jim Leonard
(in abstentia)
NAS Area South
Liam O'Neill

The CISM Committee would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Peer Support Workers for their contributions to date and for their commitment to training and willingness to make themselves available to their colleagues. Dedication of this kind is at the heart of any successful critical incident stress managed system.

New Regional PSW Coordinators Appointed

In recent months the CISM Committee and the regional coordinators have been restructured to reflect the recent changes to the NAS structure. Three regional PSW Coordinators and three PSW Deputy Coordinators were appointed following successful applications. The Committee’s new joint Chairs Mr Macartan Hughes (NAS Leadership Team) and Mr David Maher (NAS IARC/SIPTU) would like to congratulate all of the recently appointed Coordinators and inaddition congratulate them on completing their coordinator training at the National Ambulance Services College.

The following are the new regional coordinators and regional deputy coordinators:

Regional PSW Coordinators

Ms Mary O'Neill Houlihan- NAS Area South
Ms Eithne Leonard-NAS Area North Leinster
Ms Colleen Higgins- NAS Area West

Regional Deputy Coordinators

Mr Gerry Tuohy- NAS Area South
Mr Gerry O'Sulivan-NAS Area North Leinster
Ms Sally McDaid- NAS Area West

The Committee would like to pay particular thanks to Mr PaddyDuffy, former Chair of the CISM Committee and to acknowledgehis long term commitment to the Committee and for his dedication and contribution that he made to CISM in the NAS.

Thanks also to NUI Maynooth for facilitating the CISM Seminar and providing this important platform to present the Peer Support Awards.

For more information please see the NAS CISM website –