Town with 40,000 people had just one ambulance on Saturday
Published 17/08/2015 | 02:30
The HSE left a town with a catchment area of over 40,000 people with just one ambulance on Saturday night.
And while the single emergency ambulance was left to cover the Ennis area, the entire west Clare area had no emergency ambulance cover at all for several hours for the second time in recent weeks.
The National Ambulance Service also withdrew a rapid response vehicle (RRV) operated by advanced paramedics who are specially trained in advanced life support.
Based in Ennis, but covering the whole county, the RRV service was specifically put in place when the A&E department in the town was closed in 2009.
Paramedics in Clare have claimed that the county's ambulance service is short of up to 19 personnel and that morale is at an "all-time low". They have also warned: "People are going to die."
On Saturday night, only one paramedic was available for duty at Kilrush station, which covers the whole of west Clare.
After several hours without an emergency ambulance, the advanced paramedic operating the county's only RRV was sent to Kilrush to make up an ambulance crew. This left the whole of Clare without an RRV response.
Kilrush-based member of Clare County Council Ian Lynch has expressed "shock and disbelief" at the continuing situation and said: "Lives will be lost."
He added: "This is a total mismanagement of resources and lack of foresight on behalf of the HSE.
"A situation where ambulance cover is unavailable is totally unacceptable. But during an August weekend in the peak summer season, when an additional 2,500 holidaymakers make their way to west Clare, this is just recklessness.
"The Kilrush-based ambulance covers the entire west Clare area and can take over 45 minutes to reach the end of the (Loophead) peninsula alone.
"On Saturday night, there was one ambulance available in Ennis. If this ambulance was on a call, we were relying on an ambulance to come from Ennistymon, Scarriff or Limerick. This is third-world stuff," Cllr Lynch added.
"We need to be in a position to allocate additional resources and provide a better ambulance service.
"Lives will be lost if this situation is not addressed immediately," he warned.
The National Ambulance Service was unable to respond to questions regarding specific dates when no ambulance or RRV response was available in parts of Co Clare for entire 12-hour shifts.
The latest shortfall in the service comes just days after it was claimed that there were no trained paramedics rostered to work in Limerick city on Leaving Cert results night, which is one of the busiest nights of the year.