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Thursday 19 October 2017

Ambulance for every town plea after teen death

Conor Byrne's parents Marguerite and Davey Byrne pictured at their home in Dundalk. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson
Conor Byrne's parents Marguerite and Davey Byrne pictured at their home in Dundalk. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

The grieving family of a teenager who had to wait almost half-an-hour for an ambulance have pleaded with the new Minister for Health to ensure there is one available in every town in Ireland.

Davey and Marguerite Byrne said their son Conor, who would have celebrated his 19th birthday last Saturday, should not have had to wait 27 minutes for an ambulance, and that one should have been available when he needed it.

"It is a basic human right that when you need help, you get help. Wherever they are going to make the cuts it should not be there, it should not be in the health service," said Mrs Byrne at her home in Marian Park, Dundalk.

"The least we should have got was an ambulance. It could have saved Conor's life."

Conor's parents blame austerity and cutbacks for the lack of an available ambulance when he struggled to breath at lunchtime on June 24.

The HSE confirmed it received the 999 call at 1.12pm and the first ambulance arrived at 1.39pm. The target response time for life-threatening calls is 19 minutes.

The HSE confirmed that "the nearest available emergency ambulance was in the Drogheda area and was immediately dispatched to the scene. All resources in Dundalk were engaged on other calls".

The first emergency service on the scene was the Dundalk fire service which was asked to help by ambulance control.

"It took the firemen five minutes to clear the town and get here," said Mrs Byrne.

"It shouldn't have had to be like that. As soon as the call was made, two or three minutes would have brought an ambulance here from the local Louth County Hospital."

Their message to Minister Leo Varadker is: "There has to be at least an emergency ambulance based in every town, for that town, and not to be servicing other places.

"It should not have to travel to service other towns and areas."

Mr Byrne said: "The health service belongs to the people. The Government has no right to downgrade it. They cannot run it like a business, it is not there to make money."

Conor, an engineering student, was due to visit his GP the day he died. Two days earlier, an on-call docto r said he had a viral infection.

Mr Byrne took Conor for a drive because he had been feeling warm. They parked and went for a walk near a local river.

However, Conor collapsed and his father got him back into the car and headed for home.

He decided to take him straight to his GP and rang the surgery.

However, Conor's condition deteriorated rapidly.

While it is speculated that Conor suffered a heart attack, his family are waiting for the results of the post-mortem.

The Department of Health said three reviews of the ambulance service are under way.

The first is an HSE and Dublin City Council-commissioned review of Dublin services; there is also an HIQA review of pre-hospital emergency services; and the ambulance service is also undergoing a capacity review.

hnews@herald.ie

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