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Ambulance service warns of response delays

Credit: UTV

The Ambulance Service (NIAS) has warned that a sustained spell of increased demand has led to a delay in the response to many calls.

A statement from the service said it would continue to prioritise the most serious calls "to get a response to the sickest patients as soon as possible".

"However, calls for less serious emergencies are still currently subject to significant delays," it read.

The NIAS has asked the public only to call 999 in the event of a "serious medical emergency" and to contact your GP or nearest out-of-hours service in the first instance.

"Please consider alternative transport to an Emergency Department or Minor Injury Unit for lesser injuries and complaints," the statement read.

It continued, "We would take this opportunity to remind the public that arrival at an Emergency Department by Ambulance does not mean you will be seen or treated more quickly than self-presentation".

Elderly woman knocked down by tractor in Randalstown

The woman is being treated in intensive care at the Royal and her condition has been described as stable. Credit: Google Maps

An elderly woman has been taken to hospital after being knocked down by a tractor in Randalstown.

Emergency services attended the scene on New Street shortly after 6pm on Wednesday evening.

John McPoland of the Ambulance Service told UTV an air ambulance, a rapid response vehicle and a doctor were involved in the operation.

Fire crews were also called to help free the woman who became trapped under the tractor.

The woman is being treated in the intensive care unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast and her condition has been described as stable.

The New Street has since been reopened to traffic.


Oxygen explosion suspected cause of fatal ambulance fire

A fatal ambulance fire which killed a patient onboard in Co Kildare may have been caused by an oxygen tank explosion.

A man aged in his 70s died in the blaze following the explosion outside the Emergency Department at Naas General Hospital.

As a member of ambulance personnel went into the ambulance, there was an event which could be categorised as a small explosion at the rear of the ambulance, as a result of which the ambulance has been destroyed.

It was not possible to remove the patient and he has, as a result of that incident, lost his life.

I'm sorry to have to tell you that the patient’s death was a direct consequence of the fire. If the fire had no occurred then he would not have died.

Our sympathies are very much with the family at this time, in what is a very tragic loss. The staff here at Naas General Hospital and the ambulance service personnel did everything that they could to save him but it was not, unfortunately, possible.

– Tony O’Brien, Health Service Executive

The HSE, Health and Safety Authority and Gardaí have all launched investigations into what happened.

The ambulance which caught fire had been in operation for less than a year.

The main line of enquiry is understood to be based around the possibility that an oxygen tank on board exploded.

An immediate safety notice has been issued to all ambulance staff to ensure all oxygen is checked, and to re-familiarise themselves with the emergency ambulance evacuation procedures.

The Irish National Ambulance Service has also directed its oxygen supplier to undertake a series of checks.

Two paramedics were also injured in the blast, one has been released from hospital, while the other is being treated for non-life threatening injuries.