Ambulance explosion: Second paramedic released from hospital

Safety check on all oxygen containers ordered after patient in his 70s died

The second paramedic injured in Thursday's fatal ambulance explosion in Naas, Co Kildare, has been released from hospital.

The man, who suffered severe head, face, torso and arm burns, was released from the burns unit of St James’s Hospital in Dublin on Friday. The second man, who was suffering from shock, was discharged on Thursday after treatment at Naas General Hospital.

The patient who was killed in the explosion has been named as Christopher Byrne, who was in his 70s and lived locally.

The ambulance burst into flames outside the hospital in when paramedics were unloading the patient at the door of the hospital’s emergency department at about 1.30pm.


The two paramedics were injured while trying to save Mr Byrne.

The National Ambulance Service has since ordered a safety check on all oxygen containers in vehicles and investigations are underway by An Garda Síochána, the Health and Safety Authority and the Health Service Executive.

Three separate investigation are underway into the incident. HSE national director for the ambulance service Damien McCallion said concerns centred on the oxygen supply in the ambulance, which burst into flames.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said a wider review of oxygen kits has begun and would be carried out on all ambulances in the fleet.

This will take time, he warned, as 170 ambulances are in operation at any time.

The HSE said last night early indications suggested the explosion caused a fire to start in the rear of the vehicle.

“While the results of the full investigations are awaited, it would appear that the explosion was related to oxygen.”

Witness Rob Moore was inside the hospital when the fire alarm sounded and rushed out after hearing a bang. "I don't know what actually happened, but the whole thing just went up," he said.

“As I came out of the door of the hospital I could see two paramedics at the back (of the ambulance), one of them was really severely burnt.

“I think there was a fireman there, who was off-duty, he started to get things under control.

“Everyone was pulled away from it then.”

Mr Moore said he did not hear an explosion but believed he heard a bang or a thud.

He also saw someone he believed to be one of the paramedics being taken to an area outside the hospital, where medics stripped him down to treat his wounds.

Ambulances normally carry up to six sealed cylinders of different types of potentially flammable gas to treat patients. They carry oxygen and also an analgesic gas and air mix for pain relief. Michael Dixon, chairman of the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA), offered condolences to those caught up in the incident. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the man who lost his life in the back of the ambulance," he said.

“But we are also concerned for the two paramedics injured as well.”

Mr Bell added: "We would like to express our deepest sympathy with the family of the patient who died and our grave concern for the two paramedics who tried in vain to save his life.

“This tragedy should never have happened.”

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.