THE latest meeting of the Save Our Service (SOS) ambulance campaign met in the West Cork Hotel on Monday night where once again concerns were raised about the effects of changes to ambulance cover in the Skibbereen area.
Former town mayor Frank Fahy outlined a number of recent incidents which he says underline just how serious the situation is.
“Some of the incidents that have occurred in very recent weeks are a part of the ongoing different treatment being meted out to the people of Skibbereen by the HSE and the NAS.
“We are still under threat of the withdrawal of the Ambulance Service from 8pm to 8am 365 days a year from early next year in Skibbereen and the closure of the MIAU in Bantry during these hours.
“These incidents happened in the supposedly enhanced position of having an additional Transfer Ambulance based in Bantry.
“Why is Skibbereen being singled out for this treatment which differs to any other region in Ireland? Is it politically motivated?,” he said.
Mr Fahy said that on July 2nd there was no ambulance based in Skibbereen due to a paramedic being off sick and HSE not willing to pay overtime for replacement.
“The HSE said that no crew would be available on the following Friday, Saturday or Sunday which meant there would be no ambulance available in Skibbereen for 72 hours in the middle of the tourist season.
“Following an interview on 103FM on Wednesday 3rd, the HSE called paramedics and arranged for the shifts to be covered,” he said.
On July 28th at around 2.30 pm, a two-year-old child was taken seriously ill on the Square in Skibbereen.
A 999 call was made and the called told that an ambulance would be despatched from Clonakilty and the Advanced Paramedic from Bantry.
“In the meantime, a Garda took the child to a local doctor for immediate treatment while awaiting the ambulance and AP, the ambulance picked up the child later,” he said.
“On August 30th, a call was received by ambulance control from Skibbereen to the effect that a male with severe chest pain required an ambulance immediately.
“Before an ambulance arrived 70-minutes later, the patient had gone into cardiac arrest four times and thankfully was successfully resuscitated by the doctors in the Medical Centre Skibbereen after each arrest.”
The ambulance that responded was the transfer ambulance and had travelled from Castletownbere.
On Friday, September 14th a 999 call was received in Skibbereen.
Due to sickness, only one paramedic available in Skibbereen who responded to the call within the recommended guideline time, but had to wait for two hours for an ambulance to transfer the patient to Hospital.
On Sunday, September 16th the Skibbereen day shift crew who should have gone off duty at 8pm, returned at 11:50pm after attending an incident in Inchigeelagh as there was no ambulance in Macroom.
The Macroom unit was in Cork with a patient and had to respond to Clonakilty to another call as Clonakilty unit was on duty elsewhere.
“If a 999 call were received in during this time, there would have been no ambulance to respond in the West Cork Area. A 999 call was received in Skibbereen at 12.15 am,” said Mr Fahy.
On Monday, September 17th, a call to ambulance control was made by a doctor in Skibbereen Medical Centre at 11:15am for a patient to be taken to Cork.
“The ambulance arrived three hours and 45-minutes later. Ambulance Control said that the call was not booked as an urgent call.
“The Doctor concerned told me personally, that he would never call for an ambulance if it was not required urgently.”
On Wednesday 19th September due to one paramedic being on sick leave, there was no crew or ambulance available from Skibbereen.
Mr Fahy added, “I would like to take this opportunity to ask the people of West Cork and Skibbereen in particular, who have the best interests of their families and loved ones and who are willing to assist or join the committee, to reinvigorate our campaign to retain a full 24-hour ambulance service in Skibbereen.”
You can contact Frank Fahy on 087 833 6882 if you would like to help.
PICS: frank-fahy, protest