Paramedics working for the Ambulance Service in the North West have said that frontline ambulance personnel are under such huge pressure that lives of both the paramedics and the patients are at risk because of the present rostering and lack of resources.
Speaking to the Donegal Democrat, an ambulance paramedic who asked not to be named as they feared they might be disciplined for speaking out, told the Democrat: “We are in a crazy situation where we effectively are working 24 hour shifts and sooner or later someone is going to be killed because of simple fatigue.”
He added: “This has been highlighted recently in the national papers which alleged that two paramedics who were involved in a road traffic accident in Cork had been working a double shift and were lucky to be alive after striking an electricity pole.
“An incident like this could easily happen in Donegal and the North West region as the situation is the same, where we have a similar rostering system.
“We can work our normal shift of 12 hours and then go on standby for another 12 hours, or start at 18.00, be on call from 12 midnight then back on duty for 8 am for another 10 hours when we are often called out during the night getting no rest at all.
“Even at the end of the 24 hours if we get a last minute call, we could end up working up to 29 or 30 hours.
“Some stations have a roster where paramedics have to work 10 days straight, maybe not getting home for 2-3 days,” he claimed.
Another paramedic added, “This is not a complaint about working hours - ambulance paramedics are a dedicated bunch of people where saving human life is the prime concern but if we are working 24 hours plus on the trot, fatigue kicks in and the concentration levels are at an extremely low ebb.
“Both the driver and his colleague are highly qualified paramedics and share roles and after our normal shift we go on call for up to another 12 hours.
“We are dealing with life and death situations on many of our call outs - road accidents, heart attacks, strokes - these require the highest level of concentration and unless the rostering is changed, it will be practically impossible to deliver the service that the patient deserves.
“In our profession we talk about that “Golden Hour” - that is the vital time frame that a seriously ill patient needs medical assistance.
Full story in today’s Donegal Democrat.