Fire brigade fears ambulance tragedy
A SWORDS firefighter has said that the area will see the same kind of 'tragedies' happening elsewhere in the country due to an overstretched ambulance service if the HSE progresses proposals to remove ambulances from Dublin Fire Brigade.
A huge row has erupted between Dublin Fire Brigade, who operate an ambulance service from Swords, and the HSE, over the future of the service with a leaked HSE document appearing to propose removing Dublin Fire Brigade from the service altogether.
SIPTU members in Dublin Fire Brigade, including at Swords Fire Station, have now called for a fully independent review of ambulance services after seeing the contents of a document 'drawn up by the HSE' which the union says 'proposes to remove the delivery of Dublin's ambulance service from Dublin Fire Brigade, by 2015'.
A Swords firefighter, who is the SIPTU rep for the local station, has accused the HSE of 'running down' the service and said that only seven per cent of the National Ambulance Service's budget is given by the HSE to the Dublin Fire Brigade, despite the service handling 40 per cent of ambulance calls nationally through its dozen Dublin ambulances.
According to Swords firefighter, Garry Hayden, the situation is even worse in Swords, where the HSE does not fund the local ambulance at all, which for the last few years has been wholly funded by Dublin City Council with a fund contributed to by all the Dublin local authorities, including Fingal County Council.
In the leaked document, the HSE claims it can provide the ambulance service for Dublin cheaper than the fire brigade but Mr. Hayden has questioned that claim.
He told the Fingal Independent: 'They (HSE) claim they can do it for less, but the reality is that they will run a yellow pack service for a while and then they'll have to start throwing money at it and it will end up costing twice or ten times, what it costs now.'
Mr. Hayden said that there has been a number of cuts by the HSE to the Dublin Fire Brigade's capital funding for the service and he claimed that the HSE want to 'run down the service so they can take it over'.
'The service will be run down and will end up with some of the tragedies you are seeing down the country happening in North Dublin,' he warned.
SIPTU members in Dublin Fire Brigade are now asking that the HSE and Dublin City Council review of the service be abandoned and replaced by an independent review of the whole country's ambulance service.
Mr. Hayden emphasised that the Dublin Fire Brigade's dispute was with HSE management and not with the National Ambulance Service, who he said are working hard to deliver a service in difficult circumstances.