A Galway city councillor has urged people to get to know their Eircode address stressing that it could some day save their lives or the life of a loved one.
Independent Councillor Terry O’Flaherty said that in a situation where time could mean the difference between life and death, the faster that emergency services establish an exact address the better.
Cllr O’Flaherty was speaking after attending an HSE meeting in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal which included a visit to the National Emergency Operations Centre which handles ambulance call-outs for counties along the western seaboard.
She said that one of the issues highlighted was the importance of Eircodes, the national postcode system launched in 2015, in getting help to people in the fastest time possible.
The National Ambulance Service are encouraging people who are seeking an emergency ambulance to have their Eircode available and pass it on to the call taker.
They advised the importance of keeping the code in a prominent area in the house, for instance on the fridge door, or at the back of the front door or saved on your mobile phone.
The National Ambulance Emergency Control Centre enters the details of the Eircode into their system and are then able to direct the ambulance crew to the exact location in whatever part of the country from which the call originates.
Cllr O’ Flaherty says this is important in cities, towns, and rural areas across Galway and the rest of the country because it allows the service to determine the location of the caller both day and night and in poor weather conditions.
“Everybody knows that with some conditions, such as a heart attack or stroke, the faster a person can get medical help, the better chance they have of making a full recovery.
“Sometimes there can be confusion over an address, particularly when you can have similar place names miles apart - an example that was given was Ballina, which most people know as being in Mayo, but there’s also a Ballina on the Tipperary-Clare border.
“Closer to home, you can have confusion between places like Kilkerrin in North Galway and Kilkerrin, or Cill Chiaráin, in Connemara, while in the city you can have similar sounding estate names.
“Knowing your Eircode address and having it readily available in the event of an emergency can avoid any confusion and could end up saving a life,” added the former city mayor.
She said that the National Ambulance Service West, which covers a portion of the western seaboard from Donegal down to Limerick - handled 64,536 emergency call-outs last year, and a further 14,256 non-urgent calls.
“That gives an idea of the scale of calls that this centre is handling,” she said.