Editorial: Ambulance ‘lottery’ concern

This week's editorial...

Darren Hassett


Darren Hassett



The emergency ambulance cover for Kilkenny - revealed in this week’s edition - would create a very uneasy feeling for anyone living in the county.

The ratio of ambulances to population size is concerning, of course. But there’s a potentially larger problem here - that’s the lottery of “dynamic deployments”.

This idea of roaming ambulances and resources from elsewhere being deployed must be mooted when Kilkenny’s complement of ambulances is so small.

The on-call ambulances ready to cross county boundaries as need dictates is not comforting - when the bottom line of this county’s ambulance cover is revealed.

There’s a need for fluidity with regard to emergency ambulances, of course. The HSE have more than enough phrases to try and convey this message in the hope the wording will instill confidence.

They use words like resources are “dynamically deployed” - which sounds active and lively.

They say that ambulances are “dispatched on a nearest available (to incident) basis and not a county boundary basis”. That statement is also carefully worded.

That’s why those sentences are constructed. But strip the fanciful language back.

Ultimately, Kilkenny has two emergency ambulances on duty at weekends and just two for each night of the week. Four ambulances are on duty during the day - now ask yourself, how safe do these figures make you feel?

The HSE again will say that resources come from adjacent stations like Carlow, Waterford, New Ross and Clonmel. Fine, keep the “dynamic deployment” alive.

Travel times to a place like Thomastown would be the same from those areas as it would be from Kilkenny City - with the exception of Clonmel.

But when an emergency happens; that call-out and “dynamic deployment” is a lottery to see what’s available if Kilkenny’s contingent is occupied.

Surely, providing more ambulances for each county, vehicles that are static in that county, would serve the public better. More ambulances are needed. It’s a matter of life and death.