CLAIMS THAT the HSE is using the fire service for ambulance assist to fill gaps which they have created, were voiced at the monthly meeting of Louth County Council.
Responding to a report which showed that the county's fire service responded to eight ambulance assist calls during July, August and September, Cllr Tomas Sharkey said he feared that the fire service was being used to fill gaps left by cuts in the health service.
The HSE had made the decision in October 2011 to discontinue the rapid response vehicles for north Louth and south Monaghan, he said.
He recalled that when the hospital services were close, they were promised the rapid response vehicle but now this had been cut because there weren't enough paramedics. 'I suggest the HSE are looking more and more for the fire service to fill the gaps they left themselves.'
He suggested they write to the Minister for Health to see what gaps he wants the fire service to fill. 'I don't want the day when there's a fire and no engine available to go to it because they are all out on ambulance calls for the HSE.
Referring to a debate at the previous council meeting, Cllr Peter Savage said there was no question of doubting the capability of the fire service to deal with issues such as resuscitation.
Director of Service, Mr Joe McGuinness said that the fire service went to ambulance calls when there wasn't an ambulance available. They provided first aid until an ambulance arrive.