Minister for Health, Mr. Leo Varadkar, T.D. officially opened the new National Ambulance Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) in Tallaght yesterday. The building is situated at the Rivers Building in South County Dublin and will also house the National Ambulance College (NAC) and the National Aero-medical Co-ordination Centre (NACC).
By Declan Keogh
The new ambulance centre will lead to quicker turn-out and incident response times by emergency ambulance crews.The new centre replaces the regional based ambulance control centres which have been in operation for many years. The NEOC in Tallaght is electronically linked to its ‘sister centre’ in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, where both centres will receive all 999/112 calls from across the country.
Photo: (NEOC Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal)
The move is part of the National Ambulance Service Control Centre Reconfiguration Project (NASCCRP) which is aimed at centralising the number of Regional Ambulance Control Centres to just one operating, over two sites. The first regional control centres to close were Cork and Tralee on 15th May 2013. The Midland regional control centre at Tullamore, County Offaly closed on 2nd April of this year while the South East regional control centre in Wexford is still open but is due to close later this summer following a migration period with the NEOC.
The Midland Regional Ambulance Control in Tullamore also provided a base for the National Aero-medical Co-ordination Centre (NACC) up to its closure in April. The National Ambulance Centre will now be responsible for dispatching the emergency aero medical service.
Speaking at the opening, Minster Varadkar said the ambulance service will be able to operate as a national fleet and “this ensures that the nearest ambulance can get to the patient,” he said. “This new state-of-the-art facility enables the service to see all available paramedic teams and vehicles in real time, ensuring that the closest available resource is dispatched to an emergency within moments of the call being received. Not that long ago, the ambulance service did little more than transport patients to hospital,” Mr Varadkar added.
Martin Dunne, Director, National Ambulance Service said “The first thing we do is triage the call which gives us the level of clinical problems associated with that patient. We then provide as much help and assistance down the phone which allows treatment to start before the ambulance even gets there and with the visibility of every ambulance in the country we’re able to dispatch the closest ambulance to that patient”.
Martin Dunne, Director NAS (Photo: Declan Keogh)
The HSE said ‘The National Ambulance Service’s reconfiguration of existing Ambulance Control centres is consistent with international best practice and endorsed by the Health Information and Quality Authority as the most appropriate approach to improve the quality of services to patients. The NASCCRP represents one of the most critical and complex pieces of the State’s Emergency Service Infrastructure ever undertaken.’
Photo: (NEOC Tallaght)
The NEOC received accreditation from International Academies of Emergency Dispatch, one of only seven centres within the UK and Europe. The NAS College trains all NAS call taking and dispatch staff, EMT’s, Paramedics and Advanced Paramedics.