Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has expressed his concern at Ambulance response times in county Louth following an accident involving a child at Gael Scoil An Bhradáin Feasa, in Drogheda on Tuesday.
Teachta Adams said:
“Following an accidental fall in the school a pupil was knocked unconscious. It took 57 minutes for an ambulance to respond.
I know from incidents last year when one citizen died waiting on an ambulance, and from talking to ambulance staff, that there is a real issue around ambulance resources and staff availability.
At that time I raised my concerns in the Dáil with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny about ambulance response times in Louth and the risk that unnecessary delays create for patient safety.
More recently my colleague Cllr Tomás Sharkey highlighted a shortage of ambulance personnel which saw up to 24 unfilled ambulance shifts in one weekend in August.
Emergency front line ambulance staff carry out vital work under difficult conditions with insufficient numbers of ambulances and vehicles that are often passed their shelf life.
Several weeks ago I raised the case with An Taoiseach of an ambulance whose two back wheels fell off while bringing a chronically ill patient to hospital.
Only the skill of the driver in that instance prevented the incident from becoming a much more serious accident with lives lost.
On Tuesday an ambulance was called at 12.22pm. At 12.53pm the school again contacted the ambulance service to see where the vehicle was and staff informed them that there had been a ‘service outage’. However it was a full 57 minutes later, at 1.19pm, when the ambulance finally arrived.
This is a totally unacceptable wait time.
I have written to the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar seeking an explanation for Tuesdays delay. I have also asked for an explanation of ‘service outage’ and how frequently this occurs. Specifically I want to know what occurred on Tuesday that left an injured pupil in a school waiting a full hour before an ambulance arrived.
I have also submitted a series of Parliamentary Questions seeking more detailed information on the number of staff and ambulances covering the north east region.
Thankfully on this occasion the child suffered no long lasting ill effects and was discharged from hospital later on Tuesday evening. However neither the Minister nor the HSE can be complacent on this issue”.