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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 19 December, 2014

Firefighters and emergency workers ‘extremely concerned’ about Ireland’s ambulance service

RTÉ’s Prime Time programme documented a litany of failures of shortcomings in the National Ambulance Service.

Image: Screengrab/RTÉ

MEMBERS OF DUBLIN Fire Brigade (DFB) and the The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) say they are seriously concerned about the state of the National Ambulance Service following last night’s RTÉ Prime Time revelations.

The programme documented a litany of failures of shortcomings including the fact that only one in three people with life-threatening conditions receive an ambulance within targeted times.

Dublin Fire Brigade

SIPTU members in the DFB expressed concern about revelations, with SIPTU Organiser, Brendan O’Brien stating:

Considering what we have seen in last night’s Primetime programme concerning ambulance services, our members in DFB are extremely concerned that any review of the emergency services must be in the interests of patient safety and be independently conducted.

He said that was of concern to his members was that a leaked HSE/National Ambulance Service report indicates a plan to deliberately reduce funding to the DFB Ambulance Service. O’Brien said the reduction in funding is to be implemented “without due consideration of the ability to maintain and continue the efficient provision of this critically important service to the public”.

Meanwhile members of the IFESA are calling for the development of an integrated fire based Emergency Medical Services (EMS) on a national basis, stating that it “is now more urgent than ever” in light of what was exposed last night.

Mismanagement

IFESA National Chairman, John Kidd said “the litany of failures and mismanagement” of the National Ambulance Service (NAS) shown in the programme cannot be addressed adequately under the present NAS  management structures.
An integrated fire based Emergency Medical Services (EMS)  offers the only hope of addressing the problems faced by the National Ambulance Service in meeting emergency response times set down by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) and which Primetime showed are being hopelessly missed at present.

Kidd said the current structure of the emergency services is “fragmented and top heavy with management, is wasteful, inefficient and incapable of meeting response time targets when resources are being cut across the country”.

He said a fire based EMS as part of a National Fire and Ambulance Service would save lives, save costs and meet the most rigid response time demands being set down by HIQA.

Emergency services

“Fire service-based EMS provides this pivotal public safety service while also emphasising responder safety, competent and compassionate workers, and cost-effective operations. The service most capable of rapid multi-faceted response, rapid identification and triage to the appropriate facility would be the development of a fire service-based EMS system as operates in 90 per cent of North American cities,” said Kidd.

SIPTU said it was calling for public support for their campaign to protect Dublin’s Ambulance Service, as provided by Dublin Fire Brigade, against any attempts to remove it and for increased funding for the National Ambulance Service.

Related: Missed last night’s Prime Time investigation into ambulance delays? Here’s what we learned….>

Read: “I’m not in denial of anything” – Ambulance chief defends ‘best in the world’ comment>

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