The Minister for Health James Reilly has said yesterday that Ambulances are not supplied with sat-nav equipment as it would unsafe to do so. This follows weeks of negative criticism on the HSE Ambulance Service’ response times and numerous cases of emergency ambulances arriving at the wrong address.
Speaking at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health yesterday, Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin questioned why ambulances did not have access to this form of technology. He said “Lives are involved. Tragic outcomes need to be avoided. I know instances of ambulances going around and around not knowing what address to go to,” Mr Ó Caoláin said.
Minister Reilly said command centres used their own mapping technology which then provided directions to ambulances. The system was safer and more comprehensive than standard sat-nav systems, which often did not cover townlands and other areas. Mr Reilly said cost was not an issue.
“We all have to accept that as much as we strive for perfection, it eludes us and sometimes the wrong information is transmitted and vehicles go to the wrong place,” the Minister said.
The Minister was concerned at a number of recent incidents that he asked the Health Information and Quality Authority to fast-track a planned review of the service. HSE Chief Executive Tony O’Brien acknowledged that a review of recent incidents confirmed that at some emergency departments, vehicles had been delayed for longer than the 20-minute target time.
He said, however, the executive was continually working to improve response times and had increased investment in the services over the past two years which he said had helped to secure 25 new “intermediate care vehicles” and a new single national control centre which will cater for an increased volume of emergency calls.