Ambulances sent to wrong areas by new control centre
CLAHANE or Cloghane – there's not much difference in pronunciation, but geographically they're over 60km apart.
An ambulance sent to deal with a two-car collision near Clahane in Ballyduff, north Kerry, last Sunday ended up near Castlegregory in west Kerry, having been sent to the wrong location by the new centralised command and control centre in Dublin.
The previous week in the same county, an ambulance was sent to Listowel instead of Lispole – some 69km away from where the emergency cardiac-arrest call had been made.
The HSE has acknowledged the errors but said they were quickly spotted and corrected immediately in both cases. A spokesman said in the Ballyduff incident, a second ambulance was sent to the correct location within 15 minutes.
In relation to the other incident, he said: "An ambulance was initially dispatched to Listowel but clarification on the address was obtained almost immediately and a second ambulance was dispatched to Lispole without delay, arriving within 15 minutes."
Ambulance staff are reluctant to speak openly about the mix-ups since the National Ambulance Service in Dublin's Townsend Street took over dealing with calls for Cork and Kerry two weeks ago, but the main union representing them has warned that lives are being put at risk.
The new centralised service is part of a process where eight regional control centres are being amalgamated into one centre, operating across two sites in Tallaght, Dublin and Ballyshannon, Co Donegal. Cork and Kerry were the first of the eight to be incorporated into the new system.
Ted Kenny, the SIPTU organiser representing ambulance staff in the HSE South – including Kerry – said: "Incidents like this are being related to me informally at the moment and it is a worrying problem as it has the potential to cost lives."
Dr Eamonn Shanahan, a GP based in Farranfore, Co Kerry, said: "We are concerned because the geography of the county and the subtleties of different townlands require a local knowledge as some of the names do not appear on any map. We're hoping for the best."