New technology ‘will ensure ambulances never go to wrong destination again’

Martin Dunne of National Ambulance Service says vehicles will be guided to within 50 metres of location

The director of the National Ambulance Service has expressed confidence that new mapping technology will prevent a repeat of an incident earlier this year when an ambulance was sent to the wrong address in the case of a three- week-old baby boy who later died.

Martin Dunne said the service had invested in introducing the latest mapping technology in ambulances and in control and command centres, which would prevent any repeat of instances of ambulances being sent to wrong locations.

“We’ve updated all our mapping systems and are continuing to update them to the latest available. The vehicles have locater systems which will locate them to within 50 metres, while we will also be introducing digital radio technology.

“I would be very, very confident that, as a result of these changes and investment in the latest technology, that we won’t have ambulances going to the wrong locations ever again,” said Mr Dunne.

Earlier this year, on June 17th, a HSE South ambulance was wrongly dispatched to the Tennis Village on the Model Farm Road in Cork rather than to the Tennis Village in Tralee in Co Kerry, resulting in a 30-minute wait in reaching the casualty.

Polish woman Katarzyna Chlamtacz made an emergency 999 call at 1.16am after her 3½-week old baby Morfeusz stopped breathing in his sleep, but she had to wait for 30 minutes before the ambulance arrived at their home in Tralee.

The infant died from a suspected cot death and the HSE extended its sympathies to the Chlamtacz family in a statement where it said the National Ambulance Service was satisfied the "necessary protocols around responding to an emergency were adhered to in this case".

However, the Chlamtacz tragedy was not the first where ambulances have been sent to the wrong address since a new centralised service has taken over the receipt of emergency calls, and the dispatching of ambulances to scenes of accidents and incidents.

Another incident
In May, an ambulance was sent to Cloghane in west Kerry instead of Clahane near Ballyduff in north Kerry, some 60km away, to deal with a two-car collision.

In another incident, an ambulance was sent to Listowel in north Kerry rather than to Lispole in west Kerry.

Speaking in Cork at the publication of a review of the service’s handling of an emergency call when a little boy fell out of an upstairs window in Midleton, Co Cork, Mr Dunne said the move towards a centralised control and command centre would also improve the service.