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File photo Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Firefighter: Dublin's the second best place to have a heart attack - no thanks to the HSE

HSE plans to take back control of the service emerged last month but firefighers are concerned about a drop in the level of service if they hand over the reins.

DUBLIN FIRE BRIGADE firefighters will march in Dublin today calling for the retention of their ambulance service which is due to undergo a review by the HSE and the city council.

It was announced in February that the cost, quality and scale of the ambulance service in Dublin will be assessed as well as compliance with standards. However an internal HSE plan has since revealed that there is an intention to take control of the service away from Dublin Fire Brigade, which receives around €10 million a year to run twelve ambulances, by 2015.

There are concerns among firefighters about the future of their jobs if the service is no longer operating but one source said they are also worried about the level of service that will be provided in Dublin if the fire brigade is not in charge.

“People have pride in the service, we know how it works,  we have a massive success rate – it’s the second best place to have a cardiac arrest in the street and that’s not down to the HSE, that’s down to the fire service,” they told

We have a high success rate hitting HIQUA targets due to the geographical location of fire stations because we can have a fire engine full of paramedics, with a full range of resuscitation equipment, to most part of the city in nine minutes.

Unions SIPTU and IMPACT are calling on the public to support the protest against the planned review this evening. Firefighters will meet outside Tara Street Fire Station at 5pm and march from there to City Hall.

Speaking to today, Gerry Harris, SIPTU convener said the service provided by the fire brigade is “the most effective for patient outcomes as we have immediate interventions”.

He gave the example of the incident recently in which a number of people were crushed outside Copper Face Jacks nightclub.

“That would have been a major problem for the city if we weren’t there,” he explained. “We had about 40 paramedics on the ground without an ambulance so the city benefits from this the most.”

The HSE is conducting a separate review of the National Ambulance Service and Harris said this should be completed before any review of Dublin Fire Brigade commences. His union has called for a fully independent review of the service to include agreed terms of reference, stakeholder representation and persons with fire based emergency medical experience.

“It wouldn’t make sense to throw away a hundred years of experience,” he added.

Read: Cost, quality and scale of ambulance services in Dublin to be reviewed>

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

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