Fianna Fáil has secured agreement from the Minister for Health that there will be a further debate and consultation before there’s any attempt to remove Dublin Fire Brigade from the ambulance service.

The party raised a special Seanad debate with Minister Leo Varadkar on the issue this week following the news that the HSE plans to pull all ambulance services from Dublin Fire Brigade.

Fianna Fáil Leader in the Seanad Senator Darragh O’Brien told Minister Varadkar that instead of removing the fire brigade from ambulance provision, the HSE should actually be looking at expending its role.

“Not only is the Fire Brigade staffed with skilled paramedics, it also has 11 bases in Dublin while the National Ambulance Service only has 3.  It strikes me that we should be looking at better using the Fire Brigade to improve on emergency response times in Dublin and across the country,” said Senator O’Brien.

“The HSE currently pays Dublin Fire Brigade €9.2m to provide emergency ambulances across Dublin.  This is just 6.7% of the total ambulance budget of €138.5m, and yet it responds to 40% of all emergency ambulance calls nationally.  It’s a highly efficient and cost-effective use of our emergency services and there is no way that the HSE could provide the same service for that price.

“Minister Varadkar has agreed to my request for a further debate on this important issue in the coming weeks. He has also agreed that proper consultation must take place between the HSE, the council and the paramedics who work on the ground before any attempt is made to remove the fire brigade from ambulance provision.  There is no doubt that emergency response times in Dublin need to be drastically improved. Dublin fire brigade and its skilled paramedics can play a vital role in this and set a model that can be followed in other parts of the country.”