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Firefighters protest at the Dáil

Firefighters and paramedics from Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) gathered outside outside Dáil Éireann today, calling on TDs to support a private members’ motion which calls for the retention of the fire-based Emergency Medical Service. The motion comes as the Health Service Executive (HSE) continues its campaign for the merging of the service with the National Ambulance Service.

“Dublin Fire Brigade have been providing a fire-based EMS for 120 years, we have the second highest out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rate in the world. We’re ranked behind Seattle for that, who actually modelled their own service on Dublin Fire Brigade,” Deirdre Taylor, Chairperson of the DFB Section Committee (SIPTU), told LookLeft.

“At the moment, it has been proposed to move our calls to, and integrate them with, the National Ambulance Service in Tallaght. An expert panel compiled a report in 2015 and even they deemed that this would have a detrimental effect on the service that we provide,” she continued.

Highlighting the benefits of having a fire-based EMS, Taylor stated that Dublin Fire Brigade “are the only people who can simultaneously dispatch a fire tender and an ambulance at the same time. This gives us extra resilience. It allows us to respond to things immediately, such as RTAs [Road Traffic Accidents], you have the firefighters there to cut the people out of the cars, and they can also treat the patient at the same time. There are numerous incidents where scenes need to be made safe, and the dual role allows us to do this a lot more effectively.”

David Gardiner, a firefighter and paramedic, and the Workers’ Party representative in Lucan/Palmerstown commented that failure to retain the current system would “remove the ability to dispatch fire appliances as emergency cover if the ambulance is not available”. He also claimed “the proposed transfer would hinder our duty and ability to provide a safe and sustained level of service to the public.”

The motion appeared to have a wide range of support within the Dáil, with all parties expected to support the motion and vote in favour of keeping the EMS in the hands of Dublin Fire Brigade.

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