claims that an ambulance is being sent from Portlaoise to cover shifts in Edenderry over night are this week being denied by the HSE, who say that no one town owns an ambulance.
A source close to the ambulance service said that earlier this year, Edenderry had fought to get an ambulance service for their town, but he said this service was now at the sake of the people of Laois.
During the day, one ambulance normally based in Tullamore, has been transferred to Edenderry. But for the majority of night shifts an ambulance is being sent from Portlaoise, despite Offaly having another ambulance base in Birr.
“Whatever happens in Laois, there is only one ambulance,” he said, “At times you’re praying that no more emergency calls, come in because all the ambulances are tied up.
He said that the ambulance services was “being governed by a big thumb in Dublin” and that officers were even responding to emergency calls on their time off.
The man who contacted the Leinster Express said ambulances were being dispatched from as far away as Longford, when the Portlaoise ambulance is on a call, just so the HSE could say that emergency calls are being responded to within 90 seconds.
“That ambulance is dispatched from Longford within 90 seconds, fifteen minutes later the crew in Portlaoise are available and are now able to attend the scene, but that Longford ambulance has travelled for 15 miles, going nowhere.
“Edenderry fought to get their ambulance service, and I’ve no problem with that, but it’s at the expense of my friends and family now,” he said.
He said that resources within the ambulance service were stretched as it is, as the new state of the art ambulances have technically reduced cover. “We have the best of equipment now, and the ambulances are now more patient focused. But whereas there used to be two stretchers on every ambulance, now there is one stretcher and two seats.
“If there is a fender bender now and two people are holding their necks you will need two ambulances, so technically this has reduced cover.”
“Why is covering Edenderry such a priority? Why is there not a dispatch point in Rathdowney or Abbeyleix,” he questioned.
Denying that an ambulance was being sent from Laois to Edenderry, the HSE said that ““no one town owns an ambulance” and there had been “no depletion in resources from Portlaoise.”
They said that ambulances are dispatched on the basis of medical priority. This means that the closest ambulance is dispatched to the patient regardless of county boundaries, that is if a patient requires an ambulance in Rathdowney and the closest ambulance (in Portlaoise for instances) is on another call then an ambulance would be dispatched from a neighbouring county for example.
“The deployment of dedicated resources to Edenderry, including both Paramedics and Advanced Paramedics, will deliver further improvements in reducing response times to meet the HIQA standards and the quality of emergency care to patients in the Offaly area suffering a life threatening emergency,” the HSE said.
A spokesperson for the HSE explained that the National Ambulance Service implements the AMPDS (advanced medical priority dispatch system) in the Command and Control centre.
“This system is used to dispatch on identified clinical need basis and the most critical patients are prioritised and the appropriate level of clinician is dispatched. This system insures that the most needy patient gets a response by the closest available resource at all times.”