'Absence of rapid response vehicle putting lives at risk'
A dedicated rapid response vehicle (RRV) was not available when a "barely-conscious" man was pulled from the sea in Co Clare at the weekend.
The National Ambulance Service (NAS) has again been accused of putting lives in Co Clare at risk by taking the RRV out of service.
Advanced paramedics, specially trained in Advanced Life Support (ALS), operate from dedicated custom-fitted RRV's specifically introduced in 2009 when the A&E departments in Ennis and Nenagh were downgraded and later closed.
On Saturday, as the RRV had been grounded by the ambulance service, two ambulances were sent to an incident in west Clare.
While an ambulance from Ennistymon attended the incident, a second was sent over 40kms from Ennis with an advanced paramedic who would usually have been in the dedicated rapid response vehicle. Instead the advanced paramedic was sent to the emergency in an ambulance.
The advanced paramedic service, is "off the road more often than it's on", according to some paramedics.
"It's not only putting the lives of our patients at risk but also our crews. An advanced paramedic, who usually responds to calls before an ambulance, can't be expected to race to a scene in a massive ambulance," one paramedic said.
"No other county in the country has the same staffing and relief issues that Clare has, yet this is one of the only counties in Ireland that doesn't have an A&E department," he added.
Clare County Councillor Tom McNamara said: "The withdrawal of the rapid response vehicle last Saturday is totally unacceptable and it's a situation that is putting lives in danger."
The NAS did not responded to a query on the matter.