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Concern over gardaí being sent to medical emergency calls instead of an ambulance

There are concerns being raised about Garda patrol cars being used to transport patients to hospi...
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

08.35 20 Aug 2021


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Concern over gardaí being sent to medical emergency calls instead of an ambulance


Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

08.35 20 Aug 2021


Share this article


There are concerns being raised about Garda patrol cars being used to transport patients to hospitals instead of ambulances.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) says gardaí are routinely dispatched to situations that are "purely medical".

On two recent occasions in Dundalk and Donegal, gardaí at the scene of an incident had to decide whether or not to put a patient in a Garda car as an ambulance had yet to arrive.

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GRA Vice President Brendan O'Connor told Newstalk Breakfast that members are being forced to make decisions without the relevant medical knowledge or training.

Concern over gardaí being sent to medical emergency calls instead of an ambulance

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He explained: “Gardaí and our colleagues in the National Ambulance Service have always had a crossover - there are numerous occasions where we’d need to assist them, from something as simple as assisting with lifting a patient [to] if there was a public order element.

“What we’ve been seeing in recent times is gardaí being sent to calls, where an ambulance is not available or in advance of the arrival of an ambulance.

"There were two incidents in recent times - one in Dundalk and one in Donegal - where guards were on the scene, and it was clear no ambulance was going to arrive.

"The guards found themselves in a position where they had to make a decision whether it was appropriate to place the person in a car and bring them to hospital.

"Our members aren’t qualified and don’t have the training to do that."

He said gardaí simply don't have the medical knowledge to be making these decisions - and it's "inappropriate and not exactly good practice" to put gardaí in such a position.

Mr O'Connor says he doesn’t know why gardaí are being sent instead of a paramedic or other first responder, and they'll be raising the issue with the Garda Commission.

He also suggested a clear protocol is needed on how to handle such situations, as well as clarity over the role and responsibility of gardaí who respond to these emergency calls.

Main image: File photo. Picture by Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

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