Ambulances take ‘five to eight minutes’ to travel to Dublin hospitals

Authors of study say journey is faster than estimated by Google Maps as emergency response vehicles ‘can travel faster’

Ambulance travel times for major trauma patients to Dublin hospitals are well within internationally recommended targets, a new study states. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Ambulance travel times for major trauma patients to Dublin hospitals are well within internationally recommended targets, a new study states. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

Ambulance travel times for major trauma patients to Dublin hospitals are well within internationally recommended targets, a new study states.

On average, it takes ambulances between five and eight minutes to travel from an incident to the emergency departments of the main Dublin hospitals, according to the study published in the Irish Medical Journal. The longest journey recorded was 26 minutes.

These times were well below the estimated journey times calculated using Google Maps, which showed an average transit time of 18 minutes and a maximum time of 40 minutes.

The authors say this modelling system overestimated journey times by 14 to 34 per cent because “emergency response vehicles can travel faster than private motorists”.

The study did not look at the time it takes for ambulances to arrive at the scene of an incident after being called, which are measured by the HSE. These have frequently been the subject of controversy over recent years, due to missed targets and, on occasion, allegations of extreme delay.

International recommendations state that patients should be transported from an incident to a major trauma centre within 45 minutes or, if this is not possible, they should be brought to a nearer hospital for initial stabilisation.

This model will be followed in the impending reconfiguration of trauma services which envisages two major trauma centres in the State, in Cork and Dublin, and a number of smaller trauma units.

Trauma centres

Cork University Hospital will be the location of the trauma centre in the south but the Dublin site has yet to be chosen, and each of the main hospitals in the capital are currently lobbying intensively to be chosen to provide the service.

The study shows the Mater hospital has the lowest average transport time, followed by St James’s Hospital, with Beaumont Hospital and Connolly Hospital recording the highest average travel time from the scene of an incident to the emergency department.

The study examined almost 85,000 medical emergency calls in 2014, requiring more than 78,000 ambulances to be mobilised. It did not cover the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area, or the counties outside Dublin, from where many trauma patients are brought to Dublin hospitals.

For this reason, the authors say the findings cannot be use to determine which of the Dublin hospitals should be preferred for the major trauma centre.