IMPACT members in Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) have served notice to Dublin City Council today that they will join their SIPTU colleagues in two 24-hour work stoppages from 09.00 on Saturday, 18th March, and from 09.00 on Monday, 27th March.
IMPACT has just over 80 members in DFB. The members voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action to oppose to an attempt to break up the DFB Emergency Medical Service by removing its ambulance call and dispatch function.
IMPACT official Dessie Robinson explained, “Dublin Fire Brigade emergency medical service acts as a cohesive unit, combining highly trained paramedics, emergency vehicles and a dedicated call and dispatch centre which consolidates all fire and emergency service calls. This is especially suited to an urban environment with strategically-placed stations.
“The proposed break-up risks severing a key link in the DFB emergency medical service chain and reducing its effectiveness. This could result in response time delays, putting lives at risk. We believe this is going directly against the advice of Dublin’s chief fire officer who has confirmed the importance of maintaining the fire EMS model,” he said.
In letter of notice to Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan, Mr Robinson said the union is available to take part in “meaningful discussion in an effort to avoid a further escalation of this dispute.”
In 2014, an independent expert panel appointed by the Dublin Ambulance Forum stated the removal of the call and dispatch function from the emergency medical service would “detrimentally affect the safe delivery of this service by DFB to the patient.”
Mr Robinson that unions were taking industrial action because of management’s refusal to implement solutions presented by the expert panel. “They have walked away from the consultative process,” he said.
Dublin City Council established a consultative forum, under an independent chairperson, to work towards securing agreement on a model of operation to address recommendations in a 2014 report by the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA). The report did not support the proposal to transfer the call functions from DFB to the National Ambulance Service (NAS), on the grounds that removing any element of the DFB’s emergency service would have an adverse effect on patient care.
Instead it recommended “the implementation of more efficient joint dispatch procedures between the two organisations, which could be complemented by an integrated technical solution.”