Emergency responses way off eight minute target

HSE West ambulance crews are still a long way off meeting the response time of eight minutes to life-threatening emergency calls. In the first five months of 2013 only 28 per cent of emergency calls were responded to within the eight minute time frame as set out by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA ) in 2011.

A meeting of the HSE West Regional Forum on Tuesday was told that 70 per cent of calls were responded to within a 19 minute timeframe.

According to Paudie O’Riordan, Area Operations Manager with the National Ambulance Service, response time targets only capture an ambulance service’s capacity to get a resource to a patient within a pre-determined timeframe. However, in a written reply to a question by the forum chairman Cllr Padraig Conneely, he said the role of the modern ambulance service is not just about transport, but also about treatment.

“These types of targets don’t measure the effectiveness of the clinical care delivered by paramedics and advanced paramedics,” Mr O’Riordan explained.

He said the National Ambulance Service was taking a number of steps to improve response times where possible and within resource limitations.

These steps would include faster mobilisation times for crews, processes around call taking and dispatch, engagement with and development of community first responder schemes, and the development of an intermediate care service.

Almost 50 intermediate care operatives were appointed last year across the country including in Galway, Sligo and Letterkenny and this plan will be extended to other areas within the HSE West area this year, including Limerick, Castlebar and Sligo.

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