Not at all. Like the other Deputies, I thank you for selecting this matter. I thank Deputies Connolly, Farrell and Ó Cuív for raising the issue of ambulance services in Connemara.
I am advised that the National Ambulance Service has been engaging with local representatives on an ongoing basis regarding the provision of emergency ambulance resources for Connemara. The most recent engagement involved the chief ambulance officer for the NAS west division, meeting virtually with the Connemara Ambulance Crisis group and other attendees invited by the group. Deputy Ó Cuív referred to that.
As a result of these engagements, an analysis of ambulance demand and response times for the area has been circulated. I understand from the NAS that feedback is awaited from the group. The Deputies have specifically raised the possibility of an ambulance base located centrally in Connemara to ensure the region is covered at all times. As the Deputies may be aware, the National Ambulance Service deploys its resources in a dynamic manner operating on an area and national basis, as opposed to a local or county basis. This means that emergency ambulances are not held at specified static bases, but used in a more flexible manner that reflects the population need and demand.
Dynamic deployment uses an ICT platform that provides real-time information to the staff of the National Emergency Operations Centre, who continually match currently available resources and their locations with service demand requirements. The most appropriate nearest available resource is deployed in the first instance. The baseline and capacity review also highlighted that the most effective way to improve emergency response times in rural areas is through the community first responder scheme. Community first responder groups comprise trained volunteers, who are supported and dispatched by the National Ambulance Service.
These groups respond to particular types of medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, chest pain, choking and stroke. I am advised that, at the end of February 2021, a total of 275 schemes were established, including 26 in County Galway. In Connemara, two community first responder groups have returned to service following Covid-19 stand-down, while four other groups will be reactivated.
The purpose of the question was the follow-up in regard to meetings. Prior to coming to the House today, I followed up on the issue because I did not feel my scripted response would address it properly. I want to outline the information I received just before coming to the House. The National Ambulance Service has advised that no report has been committed to in regard to a feasibility study for a base near Maam Cross and no commitment was provided for a base location, nor any report committed to. The National Ambulance Service has undertaken an analysis of demand, which consists of calls in the Connemara area, in order to understand the level of service required in the area. Further analysis of national demand is being undertaken but the ability to complete this analysis has been hampered by the recent cyberattack.
It is important to have that read into the record of the Dáil because I would be doing the Deputies a disservice to stand here and give the answer I have in front of me, which does not address the question which the Deputies raised as to exactly the position in regard to addressing the report, if there was a report, and timelines for location.