No local ambulance to attend fatal crash

There was no local ambulance available to attend the scene of a traffic collision in Portlaoise on Friday in which a Mountmellick man died, meaning units had to be called from Offaly and Carlow.

31-year-old Eoin Dooley died when the van he was driving hit a wall on the Borris Road in Portlaoise at around 7pm on Friday evening, January 31. It has emerged that ambulance units from Birr and Carlow were dispatched to attend the scene as there was no ambulance available locally, with some 40 minutes elapsing before the first unit arrived.

A spokesperson with the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) has explained that there are normally two ambulance units working back to back, one from 7am to 7pm and one from 8am to 8pm, and vice versa. However, on this occasion as a staff member was on long-term sick leave there was no replacement when one unit finished at 7pm. Meanwhile, the one remaining ambulance on duty was out of the county responding to a call in Kildare.

“We’re undermanned and this is a national issue, there were shifts dropped in Kildare. We need major money spent on frontline resources and major money spent on recruitment,” said the spokesperson.

He said that two rapid response units attended and paramedics were on the scene, but as the rapid response vehicles are cars there was no way to move the injured parties.

“If you had a 100ft crater in the road, would you send two wheelbarrows or two JCBs? They sent two wheelbarrows,” he said.

He revealed that the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) are to carry out an investigation into ambulance services nationally, due to pressure from NASRA.

Laois-Offaly TD Sean Fleming has called for the HSE to totally re-evaluate its ambulance service operating in Laois in the wake of the accident.

“It is no use whatever having ambulances in the region when there is no ambulances available in the county,” he said. “The HSE have now gone to such extremes that they have to send ambulances from Offaly and Carlow to accidents that happen within one mile of Portlaoise Hospital.

“The HSE must gets it act together and common sense must prevail,” he declared.


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