Ambulance Control Centre at hospital closes after 20 years

By David Looby

Published 08/09/2015 | 00:00

Ambulance Control Centre staff at the centre last week: Jane Rossiter, Matt Crispin, David Lindell and Michaeel Murray Rockett.
Ambulance Control Centre staff at the centre last week: Jane Rossiter, Matt Crispin, David Lindell and Michaeel Murray Rockett.

THE Wexford Ambulance Control centre closed after 20 years on Wednesday morning with operations moving to Tallaght.

The Wexford centre was the last to be centralised nationally and staff will now be redistributed to business and other roles.

Cllr Ger Carthy, who works as a Paramedic Supervisor with the Wexford General Hospital ambulance service, said it remains to be seen if centralisation of the service will work.

'Naturally enough if you ring 999 you will get an operator who will turn out an ambulance to where you will be, but a lot of local knowledge is being lost. A lot of these people are very familiar with County Wexford and where crew members live,' Cllr Carthy said.

He said centralisation has been mooted for five years ever since the HSE bought a building in Tallaght which would go on to become the national centre.

Up until recently there were 11 ambulance control centres spread throughout the country but one by one they are being subsumed into national centres in Tallaght and Ballyshannon, Donegal.

Confusion over placenames, which in the past has led ambulances to be diverted to the wrong county due to confusion over an address, remains a concern Cllr Carthy said.

'The 999 calls will come to where they have always gone to and they will be transferred to the ambulance or the guards. The loss of experience is the main concern as when you ring 999 it's not like picking up a phone looking into a Sky package. It's a little bit more sensitive. I have worked with these people for the past 13 years and we've had our ups and downs but we always got on very well.'

The centre's staff corodinated ambulances for South Tipperary, Waterford, Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford, fielding thousands of calls. A new Tetra radio system is being introduced so the days of ambulance staff being alerted by phone will be over. A HSE spokesperson said: 'From the public's perspective, the changeover will be seamless. 999/112 calls from the South East area will be answered in Dublin using improved technology.

'Internal service users such as hospitals and GPs, as well as external agencies such as An Garda Siochana and the fire service, will be provided with new contact numbers to use in advance of the changeover.'

During the transition phase, both the old and the new systems will remain in operation.

Wexford People

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