Eight of the 12 city's ambulances tied up in A&E trolley fiasco

Geraldine Gittens

EIGHT out of 12 Dublin ambulances were stranded outside a busy city hospital because its emergency department could not cope with admissions.

Crews from Dublin Fire Brigade were stuck waiting with patients for beds in the Mater Hospital for several hours on Monday night.

Our photo shows the majority of Dublin Fire Brigade ambulances caught in a bottleneck Accident and Emergency department.

Fire crews were forced to wait while the rest of the city was left without substantial ambulance cover.

Garry Hayden, a Siptu representative at Swords Fire Station, said: "That image of eight ambulances outside the Mater tells a thousand words. There's a problem with beds, and the A&Es are bottlenecks.

"It's a very common occurrence with the Mater and what we're seeing is that while there's eight held up in the Mater, there could have been another one in Beaumont and another one in James's."

He stressed: "It is sluggish to say the least, and it is a disaster waiting to happen. We just can't guarantee people that an ambulance will be with them anymore. We haven't enough ambulances to respond if they're stuck in A&E."

Fire officers frustrated by the lack of resources in city hospitals and their ambulance service say families are at risk because of the delays at A&E, and they insist deaths will happen if further cuts are enforced.

One fire officer said: "It's not jobs or salaries at stake, it's human lives, young and old. Someone you know could easily be affected by this.

"DFB's resources, especially the ambulances, are already severely stretched, with many people having to wait in a queue for an ambulance on a regular basis often for over an hour.

"It is happening more and more often and with the loss of the Swords ambulance, the people of Dublin will be deprived of ambulances that save lives everyday."

A spokesperson for the Mater Hospital admitted the delays occurred because A&E was busy on Monday night.

"The hospital regrets the inconvenience caused to those patients and ambulance crews that were delayed as a result of the busy nature of the Emergency Department on Monday night."


Dublin Fire Brigade said it could not comment on the delays, but a spokesperson added that though talks are ongoing with the HSE about the Swords ambulance, there is no additional funding available from the HSE to keep the ambulance.

Firefighters will march in protest at the imminent cut of the Swords ambulance, on Monday at 5.30pm from Swords main street to Fingal County offices.

Mr Hayden explained: "It's already at crisis point with an extra ambulance, and with one ambulance gone, people will die if they go into cardiac arrest and there's no ambulance available.

"You have to send fire engines to patients in the city until an ambulance becomes available, and that strips the city of fire cover. And if a big incident happens, like a bus crash or a train crash, we will end up with major problems."

A HSE spokesperson said: "The HSE is working with Dublin Fire Brigade to develop a memorandum of understanding in relation to governance arrangements between the two organisations for the provision of 11 ambulances in the Dublin area."