Crisis point for ambulances
The level of ambulance cover and response times in the area is at crisis point.
Last week it took 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive at the scene of a 999 call in West Street in Drogheda Town Centre. The patient was a 20-month-old girl, Abbie Callaghan, who had suffered a sudden epileptic seizure. In the end a Garda patrol car took the girl to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in the town and she made a full recovery.
West Street in Drogheda is barely a mile from the hospital, yet it took an ambulance 30 minutes to get to the scene and the girl's anxious parents understandably flagged down a Garda patrol car to get their daughter to hospital.
It wasn't the first time that gardaí in Drogheda have had to respond. On New Year's Day gardaí had to take a dying man to hospital as there was no ambulance available to answer the call in Drogheda.
Wayne McQuillan (30) was stabbed at his partner's home in Rathmullen Park in the early hours of New Year's Day. He died in the Lourdes Hospital a short time later.
Those incidents occurred in Drogheda, but there was another delayed ambulance response to a pensioner in Ardee who had to wait four hours after falling, while a woman in Dundalk waited two hours for her ambulance. The four incidents have happened since the start of the year.
The problem is obvious, the cause and the solutions are not as plainly obvious to lay people as the HSE and unions quarrel over resources, system and protocols.
We might never have to make a 999 emergency call requesting an ambulance, but when we do we need total confidence that one will arrive as rapidly as possible, so that we can concentrate on helping the patient in whatever way we can and not be trying to make alternative travel plans.