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HSE defends crew in fatal ambulance trip

AN ambulance transporting a critically ill teenager to hospital went the long way round to avoid too much movement in the back of the ambulance, the HSE has said.

Elaine Curley (19), from Creggs, Co Roscommon, was bleeding internally and died in the ambulance some 30 minutes before reaching Galway hospital.

The ambulance service initially transported Elaine over a bog road before bringing her to Portiuncla Hospital in Ballinasloe.

From there they were diverted to Galway Hospital.

The entire journey took more than two hours -- but a direct route from Creggs to Galway takes just one hour and 20 minutes.

Earlier this month, the ambulance service apologised to the tragic teenager's family for taking the bog road route, describing it as "not optimal".

However, the HSE has now defended the route taken.

"The route taken was in part to allow the advanced paramedic and the paramedic to better manage the patient while working in the back of a moving ambulance.

"The shortest route is not always the best route depending on the nature of care being provided and the need for minimal movement in the ambulance," the HSE statement read.

Ms Curley was just 15 minutes away from Roscommon hospital when the accident occurred in November of last year.

However the closure of the A&E facility there earlier in 2011 meant she had to go to Galway.

It has also emerged that the body with responsibility for regulating the ambulance service, the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council, was not made aware of the incident. Usually, probes are conducted by the HSE, they added.