herald

Saturday 25 October 2014

How staff tricked thieves to give back ambulance

QUICK-THINKING control room staff got thieves who stole a 999 call-out ambulance to abandon it unharmed.

The thugs struck when the ambulance's crew went into a house at Corduff Grove in Blanchardstown to attend to a woman, the Herald revealed last week.

When the paramedics came back outside minutes later, their ambulance was gone.

The incident happened at around 8.10pm on Wednesday while officers from a Dublin Fire Brigade ambulance were attending a 999 call.



Demand

But far from giving up on their stolen vehicle, it has emerged that staff manning the phones at the fire brigade control centre used the communications system to repeatedly demand the thieves hand the vehicle back.

They were able to communicate with the pair through the emergency service's radio system on board.

It is understood that repeated warnings that gardai had surrounded the area eventually convinced the robbers to bring the escapade to a halt.

A source told the Herald they were told in no uncertain terms that they had to pull over and abandon the vehicle.

While the patient at the house did not require hospitalisation, and the stolen ambulance was found abandoned a short time later in a nearby park, the thieves reckless actions "could have put someone's life at risk."

"This could have been a lot more serious and the emergency services are disgusted that anybody would be so crass as to steal an ambulance," the source explained.

Paramedics were attending to a young female within a house who had taken ill when the incident took place.

It is understood that they had just entered the house when it was taken by opportunistic thieves.

No damage was caused to the ambulance and nothing was taken from it.

It was found abandoned at nearby Corduff Park just minutes later.

In the meantime, a second ambulance was called to the scene to deal with the initial incident.

There was never any threat to the patient's health and she did not require hospital treatment, however, the temporary loss of the vehicle did put additional pressure on the emergency services.

The stolen ambulance was brought to a garage and assessed for two hours before being declared fit by mechanics to continue working.

Sources revealed that no arrests have as yet been made but a full Garda investigation is under way.

Last year, in a separate incident, a then 27-year-old woman was jailed for four months for stealing an ambulance during an emergency call-out in Dublin in January 8, 2011.

On that occasion, paramedics had left the ambulance at Hardwicke Street in the north inner city to attend to an elderly woman at about 3am when it was taken.

cmurphy@herald.ie

Opinion

Entertainment News