So, 143 A&E ambulances dispatched on emergency call in the Western Trust in the first six months of last year didn’t have a paramedic on board. What does this mean in practice?
Firstly, it seems the NIAS isn’t realising its own vision of equipping every A&E vehicle with a skill mix of both paramedics and technicians.
Secondly, it’s creating a scenario whereby it’s possible patients could find themselves travelling to hospitals without paramedics on board after feeling so ill they had to phone an ambulance in the first place.
In the world of local ambulance cover nowadays, smaller all-singing, all-dancing Rapid Response Vehicle’s (RRVs) usually attend calls in advance of A&E ambulances.
But RRV paramedics provide whatever emergency care necessary before making themselves available for dispatch to other calls.
What happens if you’ve a bad turn on the way to hospital having been handed over to a paramedic-free A&E ambulance?
Thirdly, the use of non-paramedic crews is more common in the west: 3.24 per cent of all crews compared with 1.6 per cent of all crews across Northern Ireland as a whole. Several questions arise from the practice.