Written Answers. - Back-up Ambulance Service.


asked the Minister for Health the reason no back-up ambulance was available to respond to an incident (details supplied) in which a 13 year-old schoolboy collapsed and died; the time the ambulance actually arrived; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I have received a report from the Southern Health Board which states that ambulance control at Tralee General Hospital received a 999 call at 14.25 hours on 10 May last. The caller stated that a boy had collapsed at St. Joseph's School, Tralee and the assistance of a doctor was requested. On hearing the request for a doctor, the Board Telecom operator interrupted the call and connected the caller to a local doctor.

At 14.38 hours another call was received at ambulance control from the same caller and an ambulance was requested. The caller advised that a local doctor was with the patient. The controller advised the caller that there was no ambulance immediately available. At this time the two ambulances based at Tralee were attending emergency calls and the controller immediately checked on the location of the Killarney ambulances.

The controller then phoned St. Joseph's School at 14.44 hours to check the position and was advised that the child had been taken to hospital in the doctor's car. The patient arrived at the hospital's accident and emergency department at 14.49 hours and, I understand, was dead on arrival.

Given the known incidence and emergency ambulance call-outs in the Tralee area, over the last three years, it was an extremely rare occurrence that an emergency ambulance was not available in this instance. On the basis of information currently to hand it appears that the availability of an ambulance was not a contributory factor in this boy's death. However, I am asking the Southern Health Board to re-examine its arrangements for the call-out of emergency ambulances and to let me have a report.