Tuesday 20 February 2018

Ambulance breaks down while carrying patient on life support

The ambulance was on the way to St James' Hospital Dublin
The ambulance was on the way to St James' Hospital Dublin

Elaine Keogh and Eilish O'Regan

AN ambulance broke down on the M1 motorway as it was bringing a patient on life support to St James's Hospital in Dublin.

It is the second time this year that an ambulance has reported experiencing a loss of power while transferring a critically ill patient.

The paramedics with the patient, who is understood to have been sedated and ventilated – which means they were attached to a machine that controls breathing – became concerned when the vehicle "seemed to lose power", said a source in the National Ambulance Service (NAS).

The HSE confirmed the vehicle was just 10 minutes into its journey to Dublin last Saturday when "the crew reported to ambulance control that the vehicle lost power on the M1 motorway".

The ambulance left Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda at 4.38pm and at 4.48pm it had the problem.

It moved off the motorway at junction 7, just north of Balbriggan, and waited there for a replacement ambulance which "ambulance control immediately dispatched", according to the HSE.

The second ambulance arrived at 5.01pm and "the patient and medical staff" were transferred to it and it left eight minutes later.

This amounts to a total of 21 minutes before the transfer resumed in the second vehicle.

"The National Ambulance Service is not aware of any complaints about this incident from either hospital," the HSE added.

A spokeswoman said that as part of the NAS's fleet and equipment replacement programme, and in line with what is published in the National Service Plan, 35 new emergency ambulances have been purchased and will go into service this year.

Asked about the frequency of breakdowns she said it has a robust service and maintenance programme in place and they consider the safety of its patients, crew and the public at all times.

Servicing and maintenance is carried out on all its vehicles and equipment in line with the manufacturer's guidelines.

In March it was confirmed that a neonatal ambulance broke down on its way to collect a baby in Cork who needed to go to Our Lady's Hospital, Dublin.

The replacement ambulance also had problems and it was at least five and a half hours until the baby got to hospital.

A source in the ambulance service said the second vehicle "limped back to Dublin but they got the baby to the hospital".

Two weeks ago an ambulance went on fire on the M3 motorway in Co Meath as it brought a patient from Cavan General Hospital to Beaumont Hospital.

The independent technical examination of the ambulance which went on fire has been completed and the NAS is awaiting the expert report on it.

The service said "it would be inappropriate for NAS to comment further until this report has been received".

Irish Independent

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