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Ambulance crews told to check wheels

THE HSE has ordered emergency crews to check the nuts on the wheels of their ambulances before starting a shift.

An internal memo containing the instruction was dated February 21 – two weeks before a wheel came off an ambulance in Dundalk.

The ambulance had just delivered a patient to hospital in Drogheda and was returning to Dundalk when the incident occurred on March 6.

Staff must now do a Vehicle Daily Inspection (VDI) and ensure that yellow markers on the wheels are aligned, indicating that they are on properly.

The memo says: "As you are all aware, the National Ambulance Service has introduced yellow wheel nut markers on all its frontline emergency ambulances and intermediate care vehicles. These markers will assist staff with an early indication of potential loose nuts."

If the markers do not line up it "indicates potential loose wheel nuts and should be reported immediately to Station Supervisor/Operation Resource Manager. A check should be carried out to establish if nuts are loose."

The memo also says that the vehicle should "be placed out of service until examined by the appropriate vehicle maintenance service provider".

One paramedic: "We don't mind looking at the wheels, but we're not mechanics."

Another said: "The yellow markers are not on all the wheels on all the ambulances – some are just on two wheels."

Another said: "They sent this memo out but it was put on the noticeboard after the Dundalk ambulance lost its wheel. Talk about closing the gate after the horse has bolted. If it happens again you can bet the crew will be grilled."

The HSE said: "Yes, an internal memorandum was issued to staff in relation to this."

It also confirmed that the ambulance that lost the wheel is back in service.