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"The crew are absolutely devastated": Tributes to paramedics injured in Naas ambulance fire

The two men risked their lives to save the life of a man trapped in their burning ambulance.

The scene at Naas General Hospital in Co KIldare after a patient died and a medic was injured after an ambulance burst into flames.
The scene at Naas General Hospital in Co KIldare after a patient died and a medic was injured after an ambulance burst into flames.
Image: Niall Carson

TRIBUTES ARE BEING paid to the paramedics who risked their lives to save the life of a man trapped in their burning ambulance.

The two men were both injured at Naas General Hospital as they tried to free the pensioner from the blaze.

Representatives from emergency services organisations have been paying tribute to the injured men.

Paul Bell, SIPTU Divisional Organiser, described what happened to the two paramedics.

He told  RTE’s Morning Ireland:

“The crew are absolutely devastated by what happened.

“Within seconds, the vehicle was engulfed.

“I do believe there was a high degree of trauma experienced by both paramedics.

“There’s a huge shock, disbelief among colleagues and now a search for questions to be answered.

We are hoping there will be some definitive answers as to what happened at Naas General Hospital.

According to Bell, SIPTU has two concerns over what may have started the fire.

They want to ascertain whether there was an electrical fault or whether an oxygen leak in the vehicle had built up over a period of time.

Spokesman for the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA), Michael Dixon also praised the paramedics but said there needs to be answers.

He told TheJournal.ie: “This just shows the commitment of these two men to the people they are attempting to treat.

“It’s obviously so important that these men receive all the care possible.

“But I think their actions just go to show how far advanced paramedics will go to save someone’s life.

“Usually when they get a call, the incident has already happened.

“It’s incredibly rare that they would be caught up in something.

At the moment, we’re concerned for the welfare of all ambulance drivers.

Review

HSE National Director with Responsibility for the Ambulance Service, Damien McCallion, described how a wide review of oxygen tanks have commenced across the entire fleet of ambulances.

He told Morning Ireland: “The staff were unloading the patient, a small explosion was seen.

“We have taken a number of actions overnight. We’ve issued a safety notice and we ave directed our supplier to immediately commence  a review and inspection in all of our ambulances.

That will take a little bit of time to complete.

Gardaí, the HSE and the Health and Safety Authority have all commenced investigations into the incident at Naas yesterday and a safety action notice has been issued to paramedics to ensure all oxygen is checked.

HSE chief Tony O’Brien echoed Bell’s comments in the direct aftermath of the tragedy.

Speaking to gathered reporters, he said: “They performed heroically in the circumstances. They laid their lives on the line, as they do regularly for their patients, and this is a terrible thing for them.”

Read: ‘Not the first fire in an ambulance’: Calls for review of whole fleet after tragedy >

Read: ‘An extraordinarily traumatic event’: Ambulance fire at Naas General may have been ‘oxygen related’ >

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