Last weekend over 1000 residents of nearby Youghal (our neighbours down the road) took to the streets in what was thankfully a peaceful protest amidst a week full of disturbing images of public disorder and violence in England where lack of public services were in evidence as the dwindling police force fought against ridiculous odds whilst buildings and businesses burnt to the ground with fire crews powerless.
The emergency services are integral in the safety and security of every community and it is somewhat comforting to know they are there should, God forbid, any bad fortune befall us or anyone close.
The people of Youghal know that, as do we here in Dungarvan, and that is why they marched against proposals to replace their town ambulance service with a first responder paramedic vehicle. "A first what" you ask? Well a first responder vehicle is firstly not an ambulance and according to what I found is little more than a car with a first aid kit on board, hardly fitting for use in any medical emergency for a town of around 7,000 people. The person in charge of this vehicle, whilst obviously doing their best would be;
A certified first responder is a person who has completed a course and received certification in providing pre-hospital care for medical emergencies. They have more skill than someone who is trained in basic first aid but they are not a substitute for advanced medical care - Wiki
which is hardly inspiring for anyone in need of urgent attention.
But how does this affect Dungarvan?
Well quite simply it is envisaged that any need of an ambulance equipped with paramedics for a call out to Youghal would primarily be drawn from one of four areas, and yes you guessed it Dungarvan is one of those concerned.
Quoting The Irish Times article by Orla Kelleher where I learnt of this on Monday last
"Protesters said that if a medical emergency happens from next month, the patient will have to wait at least 20 minutes before an ambulance from Midleton, Dungarvan, Fermoy or even Cork city arrives to take them to hospital."
So statistically at least (whilst I am sure every effort would be made to avoid any shortage) one in four ambulance call outs to Youghal would be from Dungarvan. Including mileage, treatment times and possible hospital transfers this equates to a considerable time away from home base. And then it rolls on......if we fall short where do we have to depend on for back up? And can you or I afford to?
Talks are continuing between the Save Youghal Ambulance Group and the HSE and I think we should all be keeping a close eye on this one as Dungarvan's health may depend on it.