The Civil Defence is expected to hear today whether it will be allowed continue to provide emergency medical services at hundreds of community festivals.
It is estimated that as many as 600 festivals and community events could be under threat as a result of a licencing issue surrounding the provision of emergency medical care.
While the Order of Malta and St John Ambulance crews typically cater to bigger festivals, smaller events rely on the Civil Defence. If the Civil Defence was no longer able to provide its service, these events may have to pay for first aid cover from private contractors or face potential insurance hikes, both of which could be costly.
The Civil Defence requires a licence from the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC). It was granted an extension to practise until the end of July, with PHECC due to consider a further extension when it meets today.
Typically, the licence is granted on the basis of a number of assurances by the Department of Defence. However, an internal review by the department last year concluded that many of these assurances do not come under the remit of the department and that they are actually the responsibility of local authorities.
The Department of Defence and PHECC have been engaging on the issue since last November.
A spokesperson for the department said:
There is now a process in place which will involve local authorities providing assurance for some of the elements in the Statutory Declaration. The Department of Defence should then be in a position to sign the statutory declaration for Civil Defence.
As it is likely to take time for local authorities to establish these processes. The department has requested a further application of the Civil Defence’s licence from PHECC.
Richard Lodge, director of PHECC, said the Civil Defence was previously granted an extension, which will expire at the end of July.
“PHECC is working with the Civil Defence and will continue to work closely with them to support them in their preparation of an application, and to help them resolve any issues they may encounter with such an application,” he said.
“I can also confirm that the Civil Defence has written again to outline new processes they are putting in place to validate their governance systems and have requested a further extension to allow time to stress test and roll out these processes.”
This bid will be considered by PHECC at a meeting today, said Mr Lodge, noting the Civil Defence is “very keen” to remain a registered care provider.