Orla and another Red Cross VolunteerHi I’m Orla Murphy. I’ve been involved in Ballinora/Ballincollig Red Cross since I was little, acting as a more than willing patient for my sister and her friends in their cadet first aid classes!

I think this is the best way to see if you’re interested in first aid as you see firsthand what it’s all about and learn so much from the more experienced first aiders.

I acted as team mascot during their competitions (FACE 2002 was my European debut!) and the excitement of the big occasion attracted me to the Red Cross!

When I was 10 I joined the Red Cross, with about a dozen more of my classmates, enrolled in a basic first aid course. That year I was leader in the Cork Area and All-Ireland competitions, winning both. I absolutely loved competitions, and won the individual cadet All-Ireland the following year.

I think competitions gave us great incentive and our group stuck together despite moving on to different secondary schools and becoming interested in other activities, thanks to the Red Cross.

We later went on to win the novice team All-Ireland, and I think having accomplished all of this together we had confidence to get even more involved in the Red Cross.

It’s only after you use your first aid skills in real life that you realise how invaluable your knowledge is!! I do a lot of horse riding and over the years I’ve tended to fellow equestrians with broken bones, concussion – and I unfortunately had to do some self-diagnoses!! People always say “I feel so useless; I wish I knew what to do in the situation!” I know it’s easy to take the basics as common knowledge but even knowing how to properly dial an ambulance is crucial in an emergency, and something which would easily faze non-first aiders in an emergency!!

Next to real-life experience both on duty and in everyday life I’m most proud of competing at Senior Competition when I was 18 and being part of such an experienced but welcoming team that gave me confidence, encouragement and put my ability to the test!! It was also my first time competing alongside my sister (who trained me as a cadet!) so that was really nice having such support on the team!

Since I joined the branch we have made visits to the local Nursing Home, went carol-singing at Christmas, had parties, table quizzes and went on day trips. We also had non-first aid classes where we did team-building exercises.

Having graduated from cadets we went on to help with the training of younger members and this was probably the most rewarding aspect for all of us- seeing how others could benefit from our skills.

Seeing how the next generation enjoyed community events is a great aspect of the Red Cross!

In 2010 I was lucky enough to attend the Austrian Youth Red Cross international camp in Langenlois, which was a fantastic experience! There I met lifelong friends who I’ve kept in you touch with (thanks Facebook!)

In Austria I learned from youth members of other societies, from fundraising techniques, to youth activities and games, merchandise and branding to community involvement, the camp culminated in a Festival of Nations and that’s exactly what it was from start to finish!

Earlier this year I was a leader at Youth on the Run in Iceland which was a surreal experience! Again the opportunity to meet new people from different societies was beneficial, stimulating and most of all… FUN! Experiencing the Northern Lights firsthand was breath taking and visiting the dream-like Blue Lagoon was a once in a lifetime event-which I never would have experienced if it wasn’t for IRCY! The geographical landmarks there were awesome and provided the perfect backdrop to such a special event! It was an exhausting week but the Irish contingent who set out as strangers really did return as a family and that was worth all the Northern Lights!

I can’t wait to become more and more involved with the youth of the Red Cross in the future, both locally and on a wider scale with the new HIV Awareness course, first aid classes, community events and hopefully, an Irish Young Refugees event! Interacting with young people has to be the most exciting and rewarding aspect of the Red Cross. Sharing knowledge, meeting new people and making new friends while having so much fun- what more could you ask for?