Ambulance crew praised for quick-thinking response to blaze

January 7, 2019

The crew of a private ambulance which caught fire and exploded outside Daisy Hill Hospital have been praised for their quick thinking response to the blaze.

No-one was hurt in the explosion which ripped through the vehicle outside the busy hospital just after 9am on Friday 28th December – and that is largely down to the speedy reaction of the ambulance crew, who moved their vehicle away from the hospital before it caught fire and exploded.

The explosion which rocked the local hospital was heard up to half a mile away with some concerned residents believing a bomb had gone off in the city.

SDLP councillor Michael Savage praised the crew’s fast action which he said “probably saved a number of lives and prevented serious injuries”.

“I understand the crew noticed an electrical fault and drove the ambulance down the hill to an exit, away from the main hospital and behind a wall,” he said.

“They managed to get away unscathed before it caught light.

Mr Savage also paid tribute to the fire service for their quick response

“We are lucky to have a great fire crew here in Newry,” he said.

The Fire Service confirmed the blaze had been caused by an electrical fault in the engine of the private ambulance, which belonged to Belfast based private contractors, Proparamedics. An oxygen cylinder inside the ambulance exploded and fanned the flames. 

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus contained and extinguished the blaze and the incident was dealt with by 9.40am.

Proparamedics director Heather Hamill-Vaughan confirmed there were no patients on board at the time and said the incident will be fully investigated.

“Due to the rapid action of the crew the ambulance was placed to cause least damage and Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service arrived on scene quickly and extinguished the fire,” she said.

Sinn Féin MP Mickey Brady also commended the actions of the ambulance crew and the emergency services for extinguishing the blaze. 

“Thankfully no-one was injured in the incident,” the Newry and Armagh MP said, calling for an investigation into how the fire started “to ensure that it does not happen again.”