Vital fire based Emergency Medical Service under threat

The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) has today (Weds. March 12 th .) expressed serious concerns at the announcement by Dublin City Council (DCC) of a review of the provision of the ambulance service in Dublin Fire Brigade .

IFESA National Secretary, John Kidd said the proposed DCC review would duplicate the already announced HSE capacity review to be carried out across the country which is to be conducted by external consultants. The DCC review is of even greater concern given the reputation of the DCC, City Manager , Owen Keegan for privatising public services and there is already a concern that this is part of his agenda for the future of the ambulance services in Dublin.

‘It is the spirit of Croke Park Agreement to deliver better public services and IFESA has accepted the need for the HSE capacity review while raising serious questions regarding the absence of any fire based Emergency Medical Service consultants on the review panel. '

‘It is extremely worrying that no Fire Base EMS consultants are on HSE review panel , especially when we know that 40% of all emergency calls in Ireland for ambulances are responded to by Dublin Fire Brigade Fire Fighters Paramedics on Emergency Ambulances. A number of leading consultants on Fire Based EMS systems have indicated to IFESA that they are willing if asked to partake in this HSE national review process and any other review process.'

‘Without having the input into any capacity review from the Fire Service perspective the HSE review is equivalent to reviewing a football game without talking to any football players.'

On the issue of the DCC Review , Mr Kidd said despite the existence of a number of reports into the fire and ambulance service Dublin City Manager is determined now to proceed with a further review, despite calls from some Councillors to postpone this pointless and expensive exercise.

‘Given the Dublin City Manager's record on privatising public services we would be very concerned that the DCC review underway will result in a serious reduction in the level of services provided to the citizens of Dublin. In searching for savings in every aspect of the Council spending IFESA is concerned that the City Manager will too easily lose sight of the distinction between genuine efficiency savings and cuts in services that are forced on Dublin Fire Brigade as a result of budgetary constraints.'

‘ Any further cutbacks in the Dublin Fire Brigade will compromise the safety of the citizens and communities of Dublin. IFESA is also concerned that the standard of response in Dublin will be dropped to match the rest of the country when in fact the rest of the country needs to be brought up to the same standard that 40% of the population receive with the Dublin Fire Based EMS model .'

‘There is also a requirement for an increase in the number of ambulances that serve Dublin and the rest of the country. Where response time is the absolute priority for medical emergencies, Firefighters are in the best position to respond quickly and provide vital services. EMS has been a part of the fire service in Dublin for more than 103 years.  EMS is not a distraction from their mission, but rather one of our core services provided by firefighters / paramedics.'

‘Pre hospital, 999/112 emergency response is one of the essential public safety functions provided by Dublin Fire Brigade. If the fire service-based EMS system was adapted nationally, Fire Fighters would be  strategically positioned to deliver time critical response, effective patient care and scene safety, with the  fire service delivering pre-hospital emergency medical service response.' 

‘A comprehensive EMS system includes rapid response, intervention, stabilisation, and then transportation to a definitive care facility. Fire service-based EMS brings the treatment to the patient – wherever they are. Treatment by firefighters begins immediately. The fire service EMS deployment model is more robust than any private for-profit ambulance-based EMS model.'

Contacts : John Kidd 087-6588999/ Ros McCobb 0872164533 Derek Cunningham 086-2430535