SDLP raise response time concerns with Ambulance chiefs

September 21, 2015

SDLP Representatives Dominic Bradley MLA and Councillor Geraldine Donnelly recently met with senior representatives of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) to discuss concerns over response times across south Armagh.

Following the meeting with John Wright (Assistant Director of Operations) and David McManus (Medical Director) of NIAS, Mr Bradley said his party is seeking improvements to the service in south Armagh.

“Last year the Ambulance Service was called upon over 1,100 times in south Armagh and our concern has been the length of time it takes for an ambulance to get to its destination.  It takes a good twenty-five minutes to get to Crossmaglen from Newry and that’s on the basis that there is an ambulance there to respond, quite often vehicles are dispatched from Armagh, Dungannon, Craigavon or Kilkeel and that all adds to the response times.  All ‘Category A’ calls are supposed to be responded to in eight minutes, this simply isn’t happening, it’s physically impossible,” he stated.

Councillor Donnelly said waiting for an ambulance for a loved on “can seem like a lifetime” when faced with an urgent situation.

“We’re all too aware of the crises in our health service and the pressures on front line services in Crossmaglen is also widely known, yet all too often it is the local GPs in south Armagh who respond to emergency calls because they too know how long it takes for an Ambulance to arrive,” she revealed.

“Local people are in the process of establishing a ‘First Responder’s’ scheme in Crossmaglen, and whilst it is not designed to replace or substitute services such as the Ambulance Service, it is a vital service in this community and I commend all those who are involved in it and those who are volunteering as First Responders.  They will work closely with the Ambulance Service as the service develops in the weeks and months ahead.

“Places like Crossmaglen are isolated from every service government has to offer, everything from health care to broadband and yet this community has shown its resilience and has stepped up to the mark.  With an ambulance base in Newry there is no way a vehicle can get to Crossmaglen within the eight minutes it is supposed to so the service the First Responders offer will save lives, of that there is no doubt,” she added.