Millstreet’s loss will be felt as far away as Killarney

The removal of an ambulance from Millstreet will have a knock-on effect beyond the town and its hinterland and beyond to other areas that were serviced by the the service.

The implications will be felt as far away as Killarney where the Millstreet ambulance responded to 32 separate calls last year.

In April, it was revealed that last year over 42% of calls in Killarney were responded to by an ambulance based outside the area — with Millstreet being one of the closer districts to provide the service to the Kerry region.

There were three occasions when an ambulance for Killarney was dispatched from Cork City, and one where a vehicle was sent from Kilkenny — over 200km away.

There were 1,357 requests for an ambulance in the Killarney in 2016, but just 784 of these were responded to by a vehicle stationed in the district.

A total of 314 calls drew a response from an ambulance based in Tralee, 167 came from Kenmare, 18 from Caherciveen and 11 from Macroom.

Listowel sent its ambulance to Killarney seven times in 2016, while Kanturk and Dingle both responded to five calls each, Ambulances from Limerick were also sent to Killarney from Dooradoyle (four times) and Newcastle West (three).

Bantry, Clonakilty and Mallow also dispatched an ambulance to Killarney on one occasion each.

The figures — released to Kerry Fianna Fáil TD, John Brassil — highlight the interdependency between ambulance districts.

The loss of an ambulance in one area could mean a neighbouring district will have to look farther afield when seeking assistance in instances where its service is already tied up with another emergency.

In providing the data, the HSE said: “It is important to note that the National Ambulance Service will dispatch the nearest available resource to all incidents when they arise.”

At the time Mr Brassil said figures suggest there are not enough ambulances located in the Killarney area to service the needs of the town and surrounding communities.

“We shouldn’t be relying on ambulances from other areas to look after the needs of local people. Killarney is a big town, with a large hinterland.

“The HSE, the National Ambulance Service and the Minister need to commit to providing additional ambulance cover during the day and at night. There is at present just one ambulance covering the area locally. This is wholly inadequate,” he said.

The story will be similar to rural areas across the country. What happens, for example, when a call goes in from an area in West Cork where the dedicated ambulance is already in use?

How far away is the nearest available vehicle and how long will it take to get there?

The Irish Examiner requested figures similar to those outlined above for districts in Cork county, seeking the number of calls made within each region and a breakdown of from where the responding ambulances were dispatched.

The HSE did not reply to this request at time of going to press.


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