Wednesday 18 September 2019

Ambulance delayed by town barriers

The barriers at the bottom of George's Street.
The barriers at the bottom of George's Street.

By David Tucker

An ambulance was stopped in its tracks by two sets of locked barriers on the main street of Wexford when it was called to a 999 emergency after a woman collapsed.

Instead of being able to drive straight up the main street, the ambulance crew from Enniscorthy - who has been tasked because there was no ambulance available in Wexford -had to weave a circuitous route after being stopped by the barriers.

The first set was in north Main Street at the bottom of George's Street and the other at the main street approach from the Bullring.

'We were panicking, she kept drifting in and out of consciousness and their time was wasted because they couldn't get to us,' said Padge Smith, from Wexford town, whose wife Helen collapsed near St. Iberius Church.

'She could have been having a massive heart attack.. she could have died in the street. We've enough traffic wardens in the town, why couldn't they hold the keys?' said Mr. Smith, whose wife is now recovering from her ordeal.

'The barriers should not have been locked,' he said, paying tribute to both the ambulance crew, staff at the A and E at Wexford General Hospital and staff at the Shu4u store who brought Helen in out of rain and helped care for her until the ambulance arrived.

Enniscorthy was tasked with the 999 call because an ambulance was not available in Wexford.

Mr. Smith said the ambulance eventually reached his wife after zig-zagging across town and down Rowe Street and then going the wrong way into Main Street, which it then had to reverse out of, its arrival delayed by between 15 and 20 minutes because of the barrier issue.

'If we have a major accident on the town, a fire or something like that, we're going to have big trouble,' said Cllr. Davy Hynes, 'something has to be done urgently.'

'This is an issue that needs to be addressed between the national ambulance service, the HSE and the borough council.. a fail safe system needs to be put in place so this doesn't happen again,' said a source in the emergency services.

Outgoing borough engineer, Sinead Casey said it sounded as if the ambulance tasked from Enniscorthy was not familiar with the town if they tried to access Main St and encountered two sets of bollards.

'I would imagine that the local operators would be aware of the Wexford Town layout and would know the best avenue of approach to the AIB on a Saturday afternoon.

'Notwithstanding, if there is a change of work practices with regard to ambulance call-outs within the HSE, I feel it is up to the HSE to approach and discuss the matter with the Council.'

A fire service suggested the problem could be easily solved if all emergency vehicles were fitted with transponders which automatically lower barriers to enable access to pedestrian areas in an emergency as was the case in many other towns and cities.

Wexford People

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