United Municipal District call for improvement of ambulance service

A matter which remains close to his heart, local Fine Gael Councillor, John Dolan, has voiced his dissatisfaction with the ambulance service provision within Athlone-Moate Municipal District (AMMD ).

The councillor, speaking at the most recent sitting of the AMMD, noted his frustration pertaining to the issue, referencing that only two of the four ambulances located at the service headquarters in Blyry Industrial Estate were operational.

“On a personal level, this is a major issue, but it also must be addressed from a Municipal District perspective. I would not be here speaking with my colleagues or the council executive today without the assistance of the ambulance service and for that I will be eternally grateful, but the current standard of service must be rectified.

“At any one time there are four ambulances sitting at the base in Blyry Industrial Estate, two of which are operating within our Municipal District. It is shameful to think that there are two ambulances not in service in a District which encompasses an evolving population base in Athlone.

“Funding should never be an issue when we are addressing issues relating to health and so it is paramount that the ambulances sitting idle in Blyry Industrial Estate are put into regular use,” Cllr Dolan asserted.

Cllr Dolan stated that he was aware of only one ambulance operational in Athlone on a Tuesday night, noting that this was not a sufficient service to meet the demands of the local population and the extensive third level student base which may require paramedic attention in an emergency situation.

“With students now socialising in greater numbers in Athlone, there has to be an improved ambulance service readily available such the emergency need arise. I am firmly of the view that it is no longer a staffing issue. It is no fault of the paramedics on call, but many are being excessively held up with patients in hospital accident and emergency departments, resulting in longer shifts and unfortunately, impacting on the service being provided,” Cllr Dolan remarked.

Noting that a hospital porter now earns more income than that of a trained paramedic, Cllr Dolan implored his colleagues and the council executive to write to Minister for Health, Deputy Simon Donnelly, and request additional funding for the local ambulance service.

Cllr Dolan’s strong words were echoed by those of Municipal District Mayor, Cllr Vinny McCormack and Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, who stressed that the issue was one of ongoing concern within Athlone and its environs “for a long number of years”.

“How long have we strived, as a council, to implement plans which would enhance our local ambulance service, but such a realisation has yet to occur? I have personally met with highly trained paramedics in Tullamore Hospital on numerous occasions. They are overworked but doing their jobs to the absolute best of their abilities. However, the ambulance service we need in our District is not being provided, this must changes and it must do so now,” Cllr O’Rourke asserted.

Lauding the “excellent content” within the motion, Independent Councillor, Paul Hogan, stated that much research had been previously conducted regarding the ambulance service issue.

“This motion is now a regular item for discussion on our agenda yet there has been very little, if any, progress in terms of increasing the number of paramedics on duty at any one particular time within Athlone and the wider Municipal District.

“Ambulance wait times appear to be unfortunately increasing and for a town which continues to grow in population size, enhanced by a third level student base, there is definitely not a standard of ambulance service to match,” Cllr Hogan concluded.


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