herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Postcodes confusion 'could cost lives' fear

emergency services have warned that the new national postcode system, Eircode, may cost lives.

The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) said Eircode will not be suitable for emergency services and, in the short to medium term, could cause confusion and delays that might prove the difference between life and death.

IFESA boss John Kidd said the greatest concern is that errors will not be immediately obvious because of the random nature of Eircode, meaning emergency services could waste valuable time going to the wrong area or address.

Eircode, due next year, does not identify specific small local areas despite pleas from emergency services during the system's design phase for that to be taken into consideration.

"Response times are always critical, and anything that makes them worse is not suitable," said Mr Kidd.

He pointed out that the way Eircode is designed, it will be of little assistance to emergency services for whom the majority of call-outs involve roads and industrial and transport infrastructure.

"Our colleagues in Northern Ireland are used to postcodes that can be learned and are predictable so that they can find localities easily from memory.

"Eircode does not offer that capability and, as I understand it, it will not be visible on street signs to help the public raise the alarm."

Mr Kidd said it was "ridiculous" that emergency services were not directly consulted over the new postcodes. They were not even asked to trial it before it a national roll-out, he added.

database

Over recent years, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and some local authorities successfully tried Loc8 location codes.

This system operates across the entire island of Ireland and can indicate precise areas and locations without reliance on a complex database.

IFESA has now demanded a re-think on the Eircode system.

However, the Government insisted that the new postal code system will quickly allay all concerns.

hnews@herald.ie

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