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HSE using tape to close doors on ambulances

DUCT tape is still being used to keep the doors on ambulances closed -- more than six months after a paramedic fell to his death from a moving vehicle.

The HSE is keeping the side-doors of some ambulances in the north-east sealed with the tape, despite a pledge to change the locks on all vehicles last year.

The promise came after father-of-six Simon Sexton, of Cavan, died after falling from a moving ambulance in June 2010.

Gardai last night confirmed they will send a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions by the end of this week in relation to the death.

After his death, the side door on a number of ambulances in the HSE fleet were sealed up with duct tape.

The HSE last night said: "Additional safety measures were implemented via safety action notices, staff procedures and physical impediments."

It is understood that the HSE undertook to replace the locks with new ones similar to those used by London taxis, which lock once the vehicle travels over 5km an hour.

However, not all ambulances have had the locks replaced.

"We are very frightened about not being able to use the side doors and only having the rear doors to exit by. What if the ambulance is involved in a crash or there is a fire? What if it goes into the water or indeed if a patient should attack a crew member?" one emergency medical technicians told the Irish Independent.

"From where we are sitting it seems like the HSE is using faulty vehicles and has blocked one of the exits in them. If a nightclub or any other premises blocked an emergency exit I am sure they would face a hefty fine and could even be closed down," he added.

A similar incident took place in Kerry in 2007 when a paramedic suffered head injuries in a fall from an ambulance.

Irish Independent