LESS than one in ten ambulance callouts for potentially life-threatening emergencies in rural areas arrive within the target time of eight minutes, a shocking new reporthas revealed.
And while this increases to more than four in ten in the cases of less urgent calls – which have a target arrival time of 19 minutes – the experts who compiled the report say that even with major investment, rural areas have little hope of achieving the targets set by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).
The report found that the best achievable target times for call outs in the Mid West, even with extra allocated resources and supports would be just a little over one-in four emergencies.
Major urban areas such as Limerick city could do better with extra resources achieving target times of up to 85 per cent the report stated and smaller urban areas, such as Newcastle West, would achieve 72.5 per cent success in meeting the HIQA demands.
Ambulance sources have previously contacted the Limerick Post about the task they face in covering large areas when local ambulances are dealing with call outs and they have and ambulances based further afield have to travel long distances to deal with casualties and emergencies.
Crews also repeatedly report delays of hours while trying to transfer patients who are brought to the emergency department of the University Hospital LImerick as staff there struggle to clear trolleys.
The report suggestions a suite of measures and investments which would improve the situation but concludes that these would take years and still not enable the service to meet HIQA demands.
Killaloe man, Tom Clifford and his wife, Hazel are regular users of the service. Mrs Clifford has had multiple strokes and suffers episodes on a regular basis.
“We try not to call the ambulance out if we can cope with seizures but when these reach critical levels we have to,” Mr Clifford said.
In the latest incident, he said that an ambulance dispatched from the nearest station in Scariff arrived in just over twenty minutes.
“The crew were fantastic and dealt with her seizure to stabilise her in situ then a paramedic responder car arrived on their heels. But if the Scariff ambulance is not at base we have waited and hour and a half or more for crew to come from as far as Newcastle West,” he said.