Following a front page story in this week's Leitrim Observer and a number of stories on leitrimobserver.ie Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Eamon Scanlon has hit out at the length of time it took an ambulance to arrive at the scene of an accident in Fenagh earlier this month.
A teenage boy was injured during a GAA match and was left lying on a cold, wet pitch for 80 minutes waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
“There are serious issues with ambulance response times in rural areas, particularly here in the North West. Access to out of hours health services is extremely limited and the situation whereby it takes 80 minutes for an ambulance to arrive to the scene of an incident is completely unacceptable, but unfortunately appears to be a regular occurrence in rural areas. I am aware of other cases where it took an ambulance 75 minutes to arrive at the home of a man who had suffered a heart attack, while it took almost 85 minutes for an ambulance to reach another man who had fallen ill at his home”, said Deputy Scanlon.
“The current system is failing people living in rural areas and needs to be dramatically improved. The first responder service, which is so successful in other parts of the country, needs to be rolled out here.
“In Dublin, firefighters are trained to paramedic level – this means there are paramedics available on a 24/7 basis in the every of an emergency. This system should be rolled out nationwide so that rural areas are not left behind.
“Discussions between the National Ambulance Service and the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management on the issue of first responder provision are underway and I have contacted the Health Minister Simon Harris to see if there was a timeline in place for these talks to conclude.
“This issue is a matter of life or death. The current system, whereby people are waiting over an hour for an ambulance to arrive is simply not good enough. New initiatives are needed and I am calling on Minister Harris to expedite the introduction of a first responder scheme for the region”.