THE paramedic killed after falling from an ambulance on Thursday night was a well-known charity worker and local community activist, it emerged yesterday.
Gardaí, the Health Service Executive and the Health and Safety Authority have launched separate investigations into how the tragedy occurred.
Simon Sexton, 43, from Stradone in Co Cavan, is thought to have fallen while trying to shut a side door of the ambulance on the main Cavan to Dublin road.
The father of six young children, who sustained serious head injuries, died at the scene despite desperate efforts to save him.
Mr Sexton came from a well-known farming family and was a keen member of the local theatre group in Stradone.
Fianna Fáil councillor Gerry Murphy said Mr Sexton had a heart of gold and people in the local community were in absolute shock and sadness for his young family.
SIPTU representative, Paul Bell, said ambulance personnel were absolutely traumatised by Mr Sexton’s death.
“Colleagues are inconsolable all around the country, not only for the loss of such a wonderful colleague but also the fact that the accident took place in the strangest of circumstances.”
His information was that the ambulance was on a routine patient transfer with two paramedics and a nurse on board
A side door of the ambulance came open and Mr Sexton, a highly experienced paramedic, who would have been very familiar with the vehicle, fell through the door while trying to shut it.
Mr Bell, who was speaking on RTÉ radio, said it was too early to say if a vehicle malfunction caused the door to open. He said the ambulance was travelling at normal speed because it was not a ‘blue light’ transfer.
“All the circumstances indicate it was a major freak accident and that is why it is so important that the investigations are carried out promptly and the issue addressed immediately for the sake of other ambulance crews and the public,” he said.
It is the second time in three years that an ambulance crew member fell out of ambulance door while in transit.
In May 2007 an emergency medical technician suffered broken ribs after falling out of the vehicle as it moved in the Ballygarry area on the Killarney side of Tralee in Co Kerry.
The ambulance had just come out of a 60km/h zone and had not gathered full speed.
The HSE has extended its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the deceased.
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