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life or death

Where you live could determine whether an ambulance gets to you on time

A regional breakdown of response times show success can fluctuate from 95% to just 45% depending on there the call is.

ONE IN EVERY four ambulances dispatched to a life-threatening 999 call is failing to meet HIQA response time standards of less than 19 minutes.

Worryingly, a breakdown provided by the HSE to TD Denis Naughten, shows there is a major variation between HSE regions. It shows that where a person lives in Ireland could determine whether an ambulance gets to them on time.

The table below shows National Ambulance Service response times for both ‘Echo’ and ‘Delta’ calls. An ‘Echo’-class call relates to patients suffering from a life-threatening emergency like a cardiac or respiratory arrest.

‘Delta’-class calls deal with patients suffering from other, non-cardiac, life-threatening emergencies. Though standards dictate that 85% of 999 calls should have an ambulance at the scene within 19 minutes, this is occurring in just 65% of calls.

In the Midland region of North Leinster in November, ambulances arrived at ‘Delta’ calls within the 19 minutes response time in just 52% of cases. This compares to 89% in other parts of this same region that month.

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Similarly, in the HSE West region, ambulances in the Midwest arrived within that time period in an impressive 95% of cases in November, but in the West of this region, this figure was just 55%.

Commenting on the figures today, Naughten pointed out that each year up to 5,000 people die from heart attacks and the survival rate for someone who has a heart attack outside of hospital is just one in 15.

Annually about 10,000 people suffer a stroke and about 2,000 die each year and again access to hospital treatment is the difference between being able to walk out of hospital or not.

“The fact is that delays in responding to life-threatening 999 calls and further delays in getting to hospital put patients at a far higher risk of dying or having serious long term complications on foot of delayed treatments,” Naughten added.

A confidential HSE report earlier this year stated the ambulance service cannot service certain parts of Ireland in accordance with targets because the country is too rural.

The HSE said achieving response times in rural settings is “always difficult”.

Read: HSE says achieving ambulance response times in rural areas is ‘always a difficult task’>

Poll: Do you have confidence in our ambulance services?>

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