Abstract No. 1124 (Free Standing Paper) : AMBULANCE RESPONSE TIMES TO EMERGENCY CALLS: LACK OF CRITERIA-BASED DISPATCH PROCEDURES LEADS TO INEQUITABLE PROVISION OF PRE-HOSPITAL EMERGENCY CARE

Conference: 
Author(s): 
Breen N, Woods J, Bury G
Department of General Practice, University College Dublin, Ireland
Text: 
Introduction:
Equity of access to appropriate pre-hospital emergency care is a core principle underlying an effective ambulance service. Care must be provided within a time-frame in which it is likely to be effective. A baseline measurement of response times to emergency and urgent calls in Republic of Ireland was undertaken to assess current service provision.
Methods: A prospective survey of ambulance response times to emergency and urgent calls was carried out in the 9 ambulance services for one week. The times for call receipt, activation, arrival at and departure from scene and arrival at hospital were analysed. Crew type (on duty or on call), location of call (urban or rural), distance from ambulance base and type of incident were detailed.
Results: 3436 emergency and urgent calls were logged by the ambulance service during the week. Wide differences exist in both activation and response times between and within: a) urban and rural areas; b) 'on duty' and 'on call' crews; c) different health board areas. Distance from ambulance station directly affected likelihood of appropriate emergency response being delivered. (Results available but confidential until published.)
Conclusion:
Unless some form of criteria-based prioritisation occurs, inappropriately delayed responses to critical incidents will continue. Recommendations are made to improve the effectiveness of Emergency Medical Service provision.