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File photo. ambulance stretcher via Shutterstock

Defences Forces find solution to keep ambulances worth €900k on the road

Smaller crews had difficulty lifting stretchers in and out of the ambulances.

Updated at 9.30pm

THE DEFENCE FORCES has confirmed custom-built ambulances costing close to a million euro will need to be modified further after a health and safety audit raised concerns over the vehicles..

A temporary solution was found to the problem of crew members having difficult lifting patients into the vehicle under certain circumstances, but a spokesperson for the Department of Defence said this afternoon that a new stretcher system will need to be installed.

Over the course of 2012 and 2013, a total of six Iveco ambulances were bought by the army following a tendering process costing €148,000 each.

RTÉ News revealed in April health and safety inspectors had found issues with the jeeps.

The jeeps are higher than normal ambulances as they are capable of going offroad, and so crew members found difficulty in lifting stretches in and out without a full team.

In a parliamentary question, Minister for Defence Simon Coveney said that while four crew members were required for off-road operations, just two had been used in “normal on-road scenarios and with the normal medical crew of two people”.

This is where the health and safety issue arose.

“The crew of two people had difficulty lifting the stretcher into the ambulance,” he told Sinn Féin’s Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.

As a stopgap, the ambulances will now be staffed by four crew members in all situations:

As a result of a follow-on assessment by the Defence Forces Safety Advisor in April 2015 it was affirmed by the military authorities that the minimum lift requirements in an on-road scenario should also be four people as it would be in an off-road scenario.

He noted that a team of four is normally used if the ambulance is not fitted with mechanical lifting assistance.

In a statement to this website, the Department of Defence said that the Defence Forces is “developing in partnership with the contractor an engineered solution, which will enable the stretcher to be placed into the vehicle without manual lifting”.

Originally published 6am

Read: Here’s how much it cost this year for the Irish army to provide support at Shannon Airport >

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