AN ambulance whistleblower believes there are not enough ambulances in the mid-west region to cover a major emergency like a plane crash.
Shirley McEntee, an ambulance controller in Limerick, who is also a trained paramedic, warned crews in the mid-west were "run ragged" and "going without food for hours" trying to respond to patients because of a lack of ambulances.
Ms McEntee, who appeared in the recent RTE 'Prime Time' edition featuring the ambulance service, raised concerns about the impact of a major disaster on the emergency services in the mid-west region.
"The lads are great, but there is still not enough vehicles to cover an emergency – if a plane crashed – there is definitely not enough ambulances for it," she said.
"There's only two crews on a Monday and Tuesday night in Limerick. There's no such thing as peak time in all fairness.
"It could be a Sunday afternoon at 2pm or it could be 2am. It could be anytime.
"You can't really give a peak time for an emergency service." Currently on sick leave, Ms McEntee is due back at work next week.
And she said she fears repercussion from management for going public about her allegations that the service is completely overstretched.
Ms McEntee said she had not heard from management since her appearance on the programme but she has received backing from co-workers.
She added: "It's time that the paramedics and advanced paramedics got someone to stick up for them, because they're brilliant at their jobs," she told Joe Nash, presenter of 'Limerick Today' on Live 95fm.
"They work very, very, very hard. They don't get official lunch breaks; they mightn't get anything to eat for hours. They just need a bit of praise as well."
HSE director general Tony O'Brien said that he has "considerable confidence" in the ambulance service and its leadership.
However, he said that "nobody" in the HSE believed the service is "where it needs to be" and significant change was taking place.