Rapid Response Vehicle not available the day Conor died

Anne Campbell

Published 09/08/2014 | 12:00

THE Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) supposed to be used in the North East to back-up and assist ambulances was not available on the day Marian Park teenager Conor Byrne (pictured) died because there was not enough staff to operate it, the Argus can reveal.

The revelation came from the HSE on Friday last nearly six weeks after the popular 18-year-old died from a suspected cardiac incident on June 24 and has been described as 'stomach-churning'.

The Argus revealed last week that the HSE had refused to say where the RRV, which is usually based in Ardee but covers the Dundalk area too, was on the afternoon that the DkIT student's dad called the emergency services.

The issue of the poor quality of response to queries about this issue was raised by Louth County councillor and Health Forum member Tomas Sharkey at the first meeting of the forum last Monday week, calling the answers given by the HSE 'embarrassing'.

But the breakthrough came last Friday morning when a new statement from the HSE revealed, in the last line, that 'the National Ambulance Service can confirm that the Rapid Response Vehicle in Ardee was not rostered on duty on Tuesday June 24', and added that 'all available resources in the Dundalk area were engaged on other calls on June 24 at the time of this incident'.

According to the National Ambulance Services own guidelines, recently made available to members of the Health Forum, the RRV is supposed to be on call seven days a week, according to the 'briefing document on roster modernisation'.

The HSE statement, in which the organisation extended its sympathies to the Byrne family, reiterated their response to the emergency call about Mr Byrne which was received by the National Ambulance Service from Marian Park on June 24 at 1.12pm.

But in a change to the previous statements, the HSE said: 'All available resources in the Dundalk area were engaged on other calls on June 24 at the time of this incident.

'There is a Rapid Response Vehicle which is stationed in Ardee Ambulance Station but covers the north east region serving Cavan, Monaghan, Louth and Meath. The National Ambulance Service can confirm that the Rapid Response Vehicle in Ardee was not rostered on duty on Tuesday 24 June'.

Cllr. Sharkey said it was 'stomach turning' that the RRV 'unrostered' on the day that Mr Byrne died and called for the HSE and the NAS to publicly statement 'that a lack of resources and shortage of staff means their own standard for ambulance cover are not being met.

He said: 'For six weeks the Byrne family and myself have sought answers as to why it took nearly 30 minutes for an ambulance to get to Conor's home.

'We were spun a cruel public relations yarn about 'available resources'. The fact is that the RRV was available, it was roadworthy, equipped and in the area. However, there was not enough staff available to man it.

'Conor died at his home, his family watched out of a half hour waiting for an ambulance, a fire engine was dispatched as the first responder and all because of staff shortages.

'The people of this are deserve nothing less than a commitment that this will never happen again and need a government commitment that the ambulances will be fully staffed'.

The Argus

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