Ambulance crashes after 22 hours on go
TWO worn-out paramedics, forced to work a 24-hour day, are lucky to be alive after an early morning crash.
The medics, based at Castletownbere, west Cork, were on hour 22 of their shift and returning to their station when their vehicle struck an electricity pole.
Castletownbere covers calls in Skibbereen, Bantry and areas across the Beara Peninsula.
"They were coming back from a call -- they were on the go all night. They finished at 8pm but because of cuts and a bad roster, they were forced to work on until the following morning," said a source.
The two paramedics luckily only suffered minor injuries -- seatbelts saved their lives -- but the ambulance they were travelling in is a total write-off.
The incident was confirmed by SIPTU representative Ted Kelly, who met the ambulance crew yesterday.
"They are shook up -- they have some minor injuries but thankfully they are alive," he said. "This won't change until someone loses their life -- it is a crazy situation."
The two paramedics had worked their normal shift but, uniquely in west Cork and Kerry, they were then ordered to go on call for a further 12 hours.
Billy Kelleher TD, Fianna Fail spokesman on health, called on the Government to address the issue.
"Frontline ambulance service personnel are put under huge pressure and lives of these ambulance personnel are at risk because of this pressure and lack of resources," he said.
The HSE press office, speaking on behalf of NAS, confirmed that the incident occurred but refused to comment further.