Delayed ambulance for player at O'Connor Park despite being beside hospital
Concerns have been raised about ambulances not being able to get to GAA grounds when emergencies arise, following incidents at O'Connor Park in Tullamore at the weekend.
There were two incidents in O'Connor Park on Sunday afternoon when there were delays in ambulances arriving to deal with two situations.
Despite the close proximity of the ground to the hospital in Tullamore, an ambulance had to come from Portlaoise for a Rhode player when he was injured in the first half.
During the same game, an ambulance was also called for a Shamrocks supporter who took ill during the match but this was cancelled when his family decided to bring him to the hospital themselves.
While the HSE said it cannot comment on individual cases, it did say in a statement that: "The current deployment model is designed around international best practice which prevents some of the historical safety issues that pre-dated this model where the nearest ambulance did not respond to a call, i.e. they were controlled by a local control centre and did not respond to neighbouring areas where calls exceeded available capacity".
The HSE also stressed that not all 999 calls for ambulances are emergencies and response times targets which are set out in the HSE’s National Service Plan apply to ECHO (Life threatening cardiac or respiratory arrest) or DELTA (life threatening illness or injury, other than cardiac arrest) calls only.
For example, the HSE said a patient experiencing a heart attack is a DELTA call and encompassed by response time targets while a sports injury to the wrist or ankle is clinical triaged as not being a life threatening illness or injury.
"This system ensures that life-threatening calls receive the most immediate response possible..." their statement said.
"Sometimes when an ambulance is on route to the scene of an incident our control centre is informed that the patient has already been taken to hospital by car. In these cases, where the patient has left the scene, the ambulance will be stood down and will be deployed to attend another waiting call in order of clinical priority," the HSE statement said.
The call taking/dispatch function is operated by the National Ambulance Service National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) which operates across two sites, Dublin and Ballyshannon.
There continues to be a surge in demand for services, including the national ambulance service, according to the HSE, at a time when staff have also been working hard to support Covid related swabbing and vaccinations.
"Our staff continue to work incredibly hard delivering normal health services, respond to the pandemic and supporting some staff who need to get annual leave during the holiday season. The HSE is incredibly thankful for the continuing efforts of all of our staff in what remains challenging circumstances," the HSE statement outlined.
Since October, the HSE says NAS has commenced redeployment of up to 45 Paramedics from COVID related work to emergency ambulance duty and a further 80 Paramedics are due to graduate from the college at year end.
Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen recently raised the issue of ambulance delays in the Dáil and called for urgent action over serious concerns highlighted with the midlands ambulance service
“Reports from crews and patients around the country over the past year or so suggest serious delays with ambulances arriving to treat patients. These delays were once an occasional occurrence, but now seem to be making the news on a daily basis.
“In one week alone, in a small town in my constituency, there were three cases highlighted to me where very serious delays occurred," Deputy Cowen said.
“Paramedics, who are working incredibly hard, are also being dispatched to calls way outside of their own regions, irrespective of the levels of cover locally. In turn, many calls in the midlands area recently have been answered by crews from Roscommon, Ballinasloe, Athy, Maynooth and even Cavan. This is because midlands crews have been dispatched to other regions,” he said.
He said Covid-19 swabbing is wrongly taking precedence.
“I know some staff were released from frontline duty to carry out Covid swabbing. Returning these to frontline duty should be considered as an option to improve staffing," he said.
Deputy Cowen concluded: “I would implore the Minister to insist on improvements and to measure and review operations to ensure the service can effectively deal with the demands currently being placed on it.”
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