‘Lack of sufficient local ambulance service will cost lives,’ says local Councillor

The provision of an insufficient local ambulance service in Athlone has been criticised by local Fine Gael Councillor, John Dolan.

Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser this week, Cllr Dolan, noted that there was only one ambulance on call in Athlone during the recent August bank holiday weekend, such a situation, which he believes, if it continues, will result in lives being lost.

“I was initially made aware of insufficient ambulance cover within Athlone and its immediate environs in 2019 and I raised this concerning issue directly with the service at a meeting of our district.

“At that particular time there was only one ambulance available when required to cover emergency situations in Athlone with the provision of a relevant service arriving from Roscommon or Birr and at times from towns, located outside the Midlands region.

“As a result of this discussion at district level, there was relevant engagement with management and staff of the ambulance service, where an agreed and improved roster was to be implemented in September 2019,” Cllr Dolan asserted.

According to Cllr Dolan, the non implementation of this roster resulted in an insufficient ambulance service available in Athlone during the August bank holiday weekend.

“Unfortunately this improved roster has not been implemented and as recently as the August Bank holiday weekend, we had only one ambulance available on Saturday with no relevant service on Sunday in Athlone due to insufficient staff numbers to cover work rotas.

“This is nothing short of a disgrace and I am saying here and now that lives will be lost, not because of a shortage of ambulances, but because of inept management in not providing staff to ensure a certain level of service is provided,” Cllr Dolan added.

Reflecting on his personal health situation, Cllr Dolan cited that he is proof that the ambulance service saves lives.

“I am living proof that a functioning ambulance saves lives, because the service got to me quickly in my time of most need and gave me a chance for which I will be eternally grateful.

“However, when you have Athlone ambulances operating in Dundalk and Kilkenny and leaving our town with no service lives are going to be lost.

“There must be at least three ambulances on call fully manned at all times in Athlone to give patients a chance of survival when a medical issue such as a cardiac arrest occurs, but if you are waiting for an ambulance to come from Roscommon, Birr, or further afield, you do not stand a chance of survival.

“It is now time that the ambulance service management committed to the provision of an adequately functioning ambulance service in Athlone, which we truly deserve,” Cllr Dolan concluded.


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