Meeting over South Armagh ambulance response times

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Thursday, September 24th, 2015
Community, Politics
SDLP Representatives Dominic Bradley MLA and Councillor Geraldine Donnelly have met with senior representatives of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service to discuss their concerns about response times across South Armagh. sdlp14Speaking after the meeting Bradley said, “Both Councillor Geraldine Donnelly and I met with John Wright (Assistant Director of Operations) and David McManus (Medical Director) of the Ambulance Service as we seek improvements in the service in South Armagh. “Last year the Ambulance Service was called upon over 1100 times in South Armagh and our concern has been the length of time it takes for an ambulance to get to its destination. “It takes a good twenty five minutes to get to Crossmaglen from Newry and that’s on the basis that there is an ambulance there to respond, quite often vehicles are dispatched from Armagh, Dungannon, Craigavon or Killkeel and that all adds to the response times. “All ‘Category A’ Calls are supposed to be responded to in eight minutes, this simply isn’t happening, it’s physically impossible,” Bradley insisted. Councillor Geraldine Donnelly echoed Bradley’s sentiments. “The ironic thing is you never think about how long it takes for an ambulance to get to Crossmaglen, Cullyhanna or Forkhill until you’re in need of help. “It can seem like a lifetime when you’re with a loved one who needs an ambulance urgently and yet it is not uncommon for it to take up to an hour for an ambulance to get to parts of South Armagh. “We’re all too aware of the crises in our health service and the pressures on front line services in Crossmaglen is also widely known, yet all too often it is the local GP’s in South Armagh who respond to emergency calls because they too know how long it takes for an Ambulance to arrive. “Local people are in the process of establishing a ‘First Responder’s’ scheme in Crossmaglen, and whilst it is not designed to replace or substitute services such as the Ambulance Service it is a vital service in this community and I commend all those who are involved in it and those who are volunteering as First Responders. “They will work closely with the Ambulance Service as the service develops in the weeks and months ahead. Places like Crossmaglen are isolated from every service government has to offer, everything from health care to broadband and yet this community has shown its resilience and has stepped up to the mark. Donnelly added, “With an ambulance base in Newry there is no way a vehicle can get to Crossmaglen within the eight minutes it is supposed to so the service the First Responders offer will save lives, of that there is no doubt.”
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