The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) said  today  (Friday, March 28 th  ) that  the development of integrated fire based Emergency Medical Services (EMS) on a national basis is now more urgent that ever in the light of the crisis in the National Ambulance Service  (NAS) exposed in the RTE  Primetime Investigates programme broadcast last night.

IFESA National Chairman, John Kidd said the litany of failures and mismanagement of the NAS shown in the programme cannot be addressed adequately under the present NAS  management structures. 

'As communities evaluate their present emergency medical care needs, they may focus exclusively on patient transportation issues. Most research, however, has demonstrated that rapid, on-scene medical intervention produces the best patient outcomes.The ride for the sick or injured person in the ambulance is only part of the system.A comprehensive EMS system includes rapid response, intervention, stabilisation,and then transportation to a definitive care facility, if needed.'

‘An integrated fire based Emergency Medical Services (EMS)   offers the only hope of addressing the problems faced by the National Ambulance Service in meeting emergency response times set down by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) and which Primetime showed are being hopelessly missed at present'.

‘The current structure of the emergency services which is fragmented and top heavy with management, is wasteful, inefficient and incapable of meeting response time targets when resources are being cut across the country. A fire based EMS as part of a National Fire and Ambulance Service will save lives, save costs and meet the most rigid response time demands being set down by HIQA.'

‘IFESA has been the leading advocate for the development and coordination of a National Fire & Ambulance service in Ireland to respond to medical emergencies and the need for such a service now has never been greater.'

Mr Kidd said; ‘A better chance for patient survival is the true measure of quality for any pre-hospital emergency medical system. Fire Fighter Paramedics in Dublin Fire Brigade ambulance service yearly respond to approximately 80,000 medical incidents and have the second best record for surviving out of hospital cardiac arrest in the world as reported by European Society of Cardiology in 2011.'

‘Fire service-based EMS provides this pivotal public safety service while also emphasising responder safety, competent and compassionate workers, and cost-effective operations. The service most capable of rapid multi-faceted response, rapid identification and triage to the appropriate facility would be the development of a fire service-based EMS system as operates in 90% of North American cities.'

Mr Kidd concluded; ‘As the debate rages about the failure of the current emergency systems to meet critical response times it is time for politicians – national and local - health service planners and the wider community to acknowledge the need for a fire based EMS service which can guarantee compliance with the HIQA standards and deliver the best chances of patient survival.'

Media Contacts  : John Kidd  087-6588999 / Derek Cunningham  086-2430535