Despite 27 instances where 999/112 callers were left to wait over an hour for an ambulance in Kerry during 2020 Quarter One, the National Ambulance Service (NAS) has insisted that there are no delays when it comes to treating the individuals subject to such calls – as the call-taker can instruct the caller on what to do while emergency services are en-route.
A response was furnished by the NAS to members of the Killarney Municipal District recently after Kerry County Council was asked to contact the relevant authorities and request an improvement in response times.
A spokesperson said that the 27 calls which saw waits of an hour or more for an ambulance represented less than one per cent of all calls made to 999 or 112 in the county during Quarter One.
This would mean that roughly 2,700 calls were made to these numbers, but the letter did not specify how many of those 2,700 calls required ambulance deployment.
The Kerryman has contacted the NAS for clarity on that point.
The COVID 19 pandemic has not been a factor in waiting times, it was also confirmed.
“Treatment commences the moment the call is received as callers can be given instructions by the ECT [emergency-call taker] to deal with a number of situations including CPR, de-fibrillation, choking, control of external bleeding and childbirth all while the emergency resources are en-route to the scene,” the spokesperson said.
The NAS said county boundaries are not taken into the equation when responding to calls “and will always ensure that all emergency calls get the minimum time delays”. Mobile-data terminals are used to plot the shortest route to a given address.
“There are no waiting times to respond, there are waiting time delays for an ambulance to arrive at the destination,” the response continued, outlining that factors such as scene safety, weather conditions, and road conditions including road works can contribute to delays.
“Internationally, it is recognised that achieving response times in rural settings can be challenging for any ambulance system,” the spokesperson added.
The NAS also pointed out that the NAS-, Air Corps-, and Irish Coast Guard-established Emergency Aero Medical Service has greatly reduced scene-to-hospital times from rural areas.
“The National Ambulance Service continuously monitor, revise and review all relevant data regarding call volumes and make requests through the HSE Service Planning Process for additional capital and revenue,” the spokesperson concluded.