Thursday, 20 June 2019

Questions (49)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

49. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of the matter regarding the pre-hospital emergency care council issue in respect of the Civil Defence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25948/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) is the regulator for emergency medical services in Ireland and their role is to protect the public. PHECC is an independent statutory agency with responsibility for standards, education and training in the field of pre-hospital emergency care.

Organisations who wish to be operational and deliver emergency medical services, and use the PHECC Clinical Practice Guidelines must apply to PHECC for an annual licence to operate.

In advance of Civil Defence renewing its operating licence last October, my officials reviewed the Statutory Declaration that must be signed by organisations who wish to provide emergency medical services. That review identified that some assurances and details required as part of the licensing process are not within the control or remit of the Department of Defence, as responsibility for local Civil Defence operations rests with the relevant Local Authority.

Since then, my officials have been engaging with PHECC and with local authorities through the County and City Management Association (CCMA).

Following a three way meeting between my officials, the CCMA and PHECC on the 15 May 2019, there is now a process in place which will involve local authorities providing assurance for some of the elements in the Statutory Declaration. The Department of Defence should then be in a position to sign the Statutory Declaration for Civil Defence.

It will take a period of time to put in place the necessary processes and collate the required assurances. In that context, my officials have applied to PHECC for an extension of Civil Defence’s current licence which expires on 30 July 2019. That extension request will be considered by the PHECC Council at its June monthly meeting.

Such an extension will allow Civil Defence to continue to provide emergency medical services in their communities. I can assure you that I am committed to ensuring that the excellent emergency medical service provided by Civil Defence volunteers continues.

My officials will continue to keep Civil Defence Officers in the Local Authorities abreast of developments.