Gardaí take infant to hospital in patrol car as no ambulance available

Incident is second time this week there was no ambulance in Drogheda to answer call within recommended 19-minute timeframe

Gardaí  conveyed a 10-month-old girl having a seizure to hospital before an  ambulance arrived. File Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Gardaí conveyed a 10-month-old girl having a seizure to hospital before an ambulance arrived. File Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Fri, Jan 17, 2014, 12:01

For the second time this year gardaí in Drogheda have brought someone to hospital because there was no ambulance available.

It is also the second time this week that there was no ambulance in Drogheda to answer an emergency call within the Health Information and Quality Authority-recommended response time of 19 minutes.

Confirmation of the response times for the Drogheda incidents came as Labour TD Gerald Nash called on the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health to urgently examine the resourcing of the ambulance service nationally.

In the most recent incident on Monday afternoon gardaí driving past Dunnes Stores on West Street saw staff trying to help an infant and her parents.

It is believed the baby girl, who is under two years of age, had a seizure and an ambulance was called at 3.38pm.


Another location
However, gardaí confirmed that when it became clear the ambulance was not coming from the station in Drogheda, about 1km from the store, but from another location, it was decided to take action.

“This was a passing patrol car that could see in through the window of the shop what was happening and stopped to give assistance. When it was said that the ambulance was still on the motorway it was decided to take the child to the hospital in the patrol car,” said a Garda spokesman. “It is what we are here for,” he added.


Stabbing victim
In the early hours of New Year’s Day a stabbing victim was also brought to hospital in a patrol car after gardaí were told it could be another 15 minutes before an ambulance arrived. The man died a short time later.

The HSE confirmed an ambulance did not arrive at Dunnes Stores until some 30 minutes after it was called. “At the time the call was received all local emergency resources were engaged on other emergency calls and normal operating procedures were applied and telephone advice and assistance given to the caller while the ambulance was en route.”

“The nearest available emergency resource was dispatched to the scene and arrived at 16.08. The gardaí who were in attendance at the scene offered their assistance and conveyed the patient to hospital before the ambulance arrived.”

The HSE also confirmed that last Friday it received an emergency call which took 27 minutes to respond to. It is believed this was to a Drogheda man who had a heart attack.