Residents fighting for improved ambulance cover in North West Connemara have vowed to step up their campaign with the newly elected Taoiseach and minister for Gaeltacht Affairs, with a plan to take their case to Europe.
Patricia Keane said their committee is fed up with empty promises from health ministers, TDs and councillors and nearly three years of being fobbed off by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the National Ambulance Service (NAS).
It can take between two and three hours for an ambulance to reach seriously ill patients in some parts of Connemara, where there are two ambulances based – one in Clifden, the other in Carraroe – before they even embark on a journey for hospital.
However, there is such a demand on ambulances throughout the county that often these rigs are not at base and crews have to travel long distances to reach patients.
In a letter to Minister Harris, Connemara GP Dr Peter Sloane said he had to treat a man fighting for his life on the side of the road after being given an estimated arrival time for an ambulance of 57 minutes. On one occasion last year, the response time was 120 minutes when the ambulance had to come from Roscommon to Carraroe.
The North West Connemara Ambulance Crisis Group was set up after the case of an elderly woman with a broken leg who had to wait three-and-a-half hours for an ambulance to transport her to hospital for treatment.
“When we hear the HSE talking about trying to meet response time targets of 18 minutes, I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. We’ve heard of a stroke victim who had to wait one hour 40 minutes. A farmer who had a heart attack was waiting 45 minutes,” exclaimed Patricia.
The committee either wants a third ambulance based at the closed Garda barracks at Leenane – similar to Loughglynn in West Roscommon – or a second ambulance returned to Clifden. This third ambulance must be retained for Connemara cases alone.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.