I thank the Minister of State for coming to the House. I wish to raise the matter of the ambulance response times in my constituency of Cavan-Monaghan. I must highlight a very harrowing case that actually happened to a family in County Monaghan.
Last July, a young man of 44 years of age, who was a son, a father and a husband, suffered a cardiac arrest in Castleblayney, County Monaghan. Luckily he was in company at the time and the 999 call was made. People who were on the scene at the time carried out CPR on this man and the locals who made the 999 call stayed in constant contact with the ambulance service while they waited for an ambulance to arrive. These people had the time both to get the defibrillator to perform the CPR and to make contact with the ambulance service and they waited and waited. The ambulance had to come from Navan. It was redirected to Dunshaughlin - this is all in County Meath as the Minister of State is aware - before it reached Ballybay, which is just outside Castleblayney, County Monaghan. I understand there is an ambulance and an ambulance service based in Castleblayney, which is literally ten minutes from where the incident was happening. In the end, this gentleman was waiting for the ambulance to arrive for one hour and 15 minutes. He was still alive and had a good strong pulse when the ambulance did arrive. Unfortunately, when the gentleman was taken into the ambulance, he lost his life. His mum and his family maintain to this day that had the ambulance response time been much quicker or had the doctor on call arrived on the scene, the outcome quite clearly could have been very different. This man has left behind young children and a wife, his mum, dad, sisters and brothers, who are absolutely traumatised and heartbroken at this outcome.
I put it to the Minister of State that it is just not good enough in this day and age for anybody in such a critical condition to be obliged to wait that length of time for an ambulance. Not only was the incident happening within ten minutes of Castleblayney, where there is an ambulance service to respond to such calls, they were another ten or 15 minutes away from Monaghan Hospital. The ambulance that was dispatched was directed to Cavan General Hospital, which has an accident and emergency unit. This response time is just not good enough. In December we met representatives of the National Ambulance Service, NAS, to address these issues but I have a couple of questions to put to the Minister of State today.
For this family, unfortunately, that is not where this issue finishes. Another family member, who had been ill for many years, became critically ill just ten days after he had lost his son. The ambulance was called again. This man's wife, who is in her 70s and had just suffered the trauma of losing her son, had to call on the ambulance service again. To not put a tooth in it, the ambulance got lost. When the family rang the 999 number, they were told the ambulance was in Shercock, County Cavan, which is literally ten miles away or a ten-minute journey at most. The ambulance got lost and when it did show up the family was told that it had no satnav and had been given no contact details as to where the 999 call had come from. This gentleman had to wait one hour and 25 minutes, ten days after they had lost their son, having waited one hour and 15 minutes. Thankfully, the outcome for this gentleman was much better and his life was saved. He was brought to Cavan General Hospital. That family are absolutely traumatised. I put it to the Minister of State that this family are not the only ones in the constituency of Cavan-Monaghan who are bewildered by the ambulance response times.