AMBULANCE staff must now check the nuts on the wheels on their ambulance before they start their shift.
The internal memo telling them what to do is dated February 21 this year – exactly two weeks before the wheel came off an ambulance in Dundalk which had just brought a patient to hospital.
The internal HSE document gives detailed instructions on how to do the safety check.
"As you are all aware the National Ambulance Service has introduced yellow wheel nut markers on all its Frontline emergency ambulances and intermediate care vehicles," it states.
"These markers will assist staff with an early indication of potential loose wheel nuts."
Staff must do a Vehicle Daily Inspection (VDI) and the memo tells them how the yellow markers should be aligned if they are on properly.
If they are off-line it "indicates potential loose wheel nuts and should be reported immediately to Station Supervisor/Operation Resource Manager. A check should be carried out to establish if wheel nuts are loose".
It also says that the vehicle must be "placed out of service until examined by the appropriate vehicle maintenance service provider".
It confirmed the ambulance that lost the wheel is back in service.
One paramedic said, "We don't mind looking at the wheels but we are not mechanics."
Another paramedic said, "The yellow markers are not on all the wheels on all the ambulances – some are just on two wheels."
Another said it was put on their notice board after the Dundalk ambulance lost its wheel.
"Talk about closing the gate after the horse has bolted. If it happens again you can bet the crew in the ambulance will be grilled," another paramedic said.
The HSE was asked when and why this memo was circulated. The response was: "Yes, an internal memorandum was issued to staff in relation to this."