A YOUNG mum whose baby daughter was delivered in a GP's surgery in rural Mayo has called for a new ambulance service in the area to be fully manned.
Elaine Gallagher from Saula in Achill was en route to Castlebar hospital with her partner Trevor Floody when it became clear that baby Amaya would not wait.
The couple had to make an emergency stop in Mulranny were they called on the assistance of local GP Dr Jerry Cowley, a former independent TD.
While an ambulance was called for, it did not arrive until 40 minutes later, moments before Amaya was born. This is despite the fact that a new ambulance base was recently opened in Mulranny. However, due to staffing shortages it is rarely manned.
The baby was not breathing when she was delivered and needed immediate medical attention.
"We are so lucky Dr Cowley was there or we would have been in trouble. Amaya needed suction and oxygen right away. If we had had to pull over on the side of the road and do it on our own, she was gone, she wouldn't have survived," said Elaine.
Dr Cowley explained how this was the seventh baby he had delivered as expectant mums attempted to make it to Castlebar hospital. He was assisted by his daughter Caroline who is a trainee GP.
"We've had so much practice that we're turning into a maternity hospital. Thank God it ended well but these women are travelling so far to the hospital and the potential for complications is always there," he said.
"We have a new ambulance service in the village but it is like an oasis in the desert. It's all lit up but rarely open. The ambulance was supposed to be at the Mulranny centre that morning but it was diverted elsewhere."
While Amaya is now back home in Achill with her delighted parents and "besotted" big brother Cailean (9), the community has started a petition calling on Taoiseach Enda Kenny and minister of state Michael Ring to provide the necessary funds to ensure the ambulance base is fully staffed.