Ambulance cover is 'unacceptable'
KILLARNEY Fianna Fáil Councillor John Joe Culloty has expressed concern that the town and its environs are regularly being left with an "unacceptable and unsafe" level of cover as a result of the town's only ambulance being dispatched to emergencies in North Cork.
Cllr Culloty claims the cutting of one of the two emergency ambulances in the town and the loss of an ambulance in Millstreet has led to a situation where the Killarney service spends much time dealing with call outs in North Cork.
"If the ambulance is called out to somewhere like Kanturk and takes that patient to CUH it could take anywhere up to two or three hours, leaving Killarney without its own emergency ambulance during that time," Cllr Culloty said.
"That is bad enough in the winter but in the summer the population in the Killarney area doubles. This is an accident waiting to happen, there are lives in the balance," he said.
In the Killarney area the previous service saw one ambulance working on a 24/7 basis and another providing a service from 8am to 4pm Monday to Saturday. One has now been replaced by an Intermediate Care Vehicle (ICV) working seven days a week.
Cllr Culloty feels that the ICV, which is generally used for the transfer of patients, is not a proper replacement as it cannot respond to emergencies. He said that he has spoken to GPs in Killarney and "they are really concerned about this and said that the current situation is detrimental to the safety of patients in Killarney."
The Fianna Fail Councillor said it was difficult to get people to realise just how serious the situation had become: "The only way it will change is if something bad does happen and the truth is really that it's only a matter of time."
While acknowledging the use of an ICV has changed the service profile in Killarney, William Merriman, Area Operations Manager with the National Ambulance Service told The Kerryman that he was satisfied that it was a more efficient use of resources and a "better match for the needs of the area".
The Area Operations Manager however did confirm that a review of the services will take place in the next number of weeks.
"As part of this review NAS will be doing a detailed analysis on the services in Killarney in the three months prior to the changes and the three months post changes," Mr Merriman said.