IMPACT, which represents 200 firefighter paramedics in Dublin Fire Brigade, has said that a meeting of members scheduled to take place today (Thursday 5th March) will consider a response to new measures which will see the HSE’s National Ambulance Service (NAS) take responsibility for all emergency calls in the Dublin region. IMPACT said that members would coordinate their response with Siptu members in Dublin Fire Brigade.
In the meantime, it is anticipated that members of the Haddington Road Agreement (HRA) oversight body will meet with the city manager to emphasise the necessity to comply with the terms of the HRA regarding any potential changes.
National secretary Peter Nolan said that proposed measures, which have been developed without consultation with workers, would not address inefficiencies in the ambulance service identified in a recent HIQA report. “The Dublin ambulance service operates on less than 10 per cent of the national service budget, yet responds to 40 per cent of ambulance calls nationally. It operates to the highest standards, and has a proven track record of excellence. The city cannot afford to have that excellence undermined.
“These measures, which look very much like the early steps toward subsuming the Dublin Fire Brigade’s ambulance service into the NAS, do not address the issue of average response times. We would raise the question of how response times might be affected if calls for the Dublin service are processed by the NAS. This introduces an additional step in the response process which could increase response times rather than reduce them” he said.
Mr Nolan added “The delays in Dublin response times, identified by HIQA, relate only to non-critical calls. The response times to critical incidents are shorter, and reflect the level of excellence that Dublin citizens associate with the Dublin Fire Brigade.
“A substantial number of the calls referred to the NAS by the DFB each year involve inter-hospital transport. They are non-emergency and ensure that DFB’s capacity to respond to critical incidents is maintained. This is the type of cooperation between the two services that helps to ensure better emergency response times” he said.
Mr Nolan said that the meeting would consider a coordinated response with Siptu, including the possibility of a ballot for industrial action. The meeting of the IMPACT firefighters section commences today at 10am at IMPACT’s head office in Dublin.