Speeches

Address by Minister of State, Mr Ivor Callely T.D., at the opening by him of the IAMBEX 2003 Conference on behalf of the Association of Chief Ambulance Officers

Introduction

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests.

It gives me great pleasure to be here this morning to formally open this conference and I would like to extend my thanks to the Association for the kind invitation to do so.

I understand that this is the first occasion on which this conference has been held in the Eastern Region and may I, as Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children and as a proud native of the City of Dublin, extend a very warm welcome to you all here today.

May I first of all say that I am, of course, aware of the role which the ambulance service plays in the delivery of our health services and of the key role which you here today, as Regional Managers of the service, play in effecting that delivery. I applaud your work and dedication to the development of an enhanced level of pre-hospital care for patients who require emergency treatment.

Government is committed to the development of the ambulance service in line with the recommendations of a number of important reviews with which you are all familiar.

These are:

  • The 1993 Report of the Review Group on the Ambulance Service;
  • The 1999 Cardiovascular Health Strategy;
  • The 2001 Strategic Review of the Ambulance Service.

In line with key recommendations contained in the Reports of these Reviews, there have been significant developments in the service in recent years including:

  • A major upgrading in training and standards
  • The equipping of emergency ambulances with defibrillators and the training of ambulance personnel in their use
  • The development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which draw on current best evidence in key areas of concern to those working in the emergency ambulance service
  • Progress in upgrading the ambulance fleet and equipment, and
  • Improvements in communication equipment and control facilities.

As a consequence the ambulance service is now better equipped to provide a high quality service to patients.

Integrated Approach

The Ambulance Service of course does not operate in isolation from other health care providers. It strives under the direction and guidance of you, the Chief Ambulance Officers, to provide its services in an integrated manner, co-operating with other healthcare personnel and other emergency services in order to deliver the best quality of care to patients in need in a timely and appropriate fashion. The continuing development of an integrated approach to working relationships with other key healthcare providers as part of a seamless healthcare system will be necessary in order that the quality of pre-hospital care and other emergency services continues to improve. The theme of this Conference ´Teaming with Vision´ encapsulates the significance of these working relationships in the pre-hospital care environment.

Conference Agenda

Over the course of the next two days a number of speakers will introduce specific topics in line with the Conference theme:-

Mr. Denis Doherty, Director of the Health Boards´ Executive (HeBE) – will deal with the advantages of the Health Boards working together in a cohesive manner for the betterment of patient/client outcomes. The HeBE was established to improve further the efficiency and effectiveness of our health and personal social services, including pre hospital emergency care services, in recognition of the need for national co-ordination of many management and organisational issues for the Authority and the Health Boards in order to ensure a co-ordinated approach to service delivery.

One of the key recommendations of the recently published Review of the Ambulance Service, which I alluded to earlier, was the establishment of an Ambulance Office within the HeBE to achieve such co-ordination in the delivery of pre hospital emergency care. I am pleased to learn that this office has now been established, and that a Project Director has been appointed. The role of the Ambulance Office will include, inter alia, responsibility for developing and implementing proposals for conjoint operations between health boards where these could result in a more efficient and more effective emergency response. May I avail of the opportunity presented to me here today to wish the newly appointed Project Director of the Ambulance Office, Mr Philip Lane, former Chief Ambulance Officer of the Midland Health Board, well in his endeavours in this regard.

Professor Gerard Bury of the Department of General Practice of University College Dublin – has been involved in the development of programmes for the enhancement of pre-hospital care for many years. He is a key member of the Pre-hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) and his contribution to the development by the Council of the recently launched Emergency Medical Technician -Advanced programme, was immense. The launch of that programme represented an important milestone in the continuing development of pre-hospital emergency care services.

Professor Bury is fully aware of the type of teamwork which is required between the various service providers in the pre-hospital care setting and I am sure his contribution to this Conference will identify future challenges facing the development of co-ordinated, cohesive inter-agency working relationships.

Mr. Rick Petrie – is a regional Emergency Medical Service Co-ordinator for the Maine Emergency Medical Services in the USA. He will bring to the Conference a discussion on the medical, legal and ethical considerations of pre-hospital care. Mr Petrie is a long way from home and has taken time out of a very busy schedule to be here today. I´d like to extend a very warm welcome to him and to thank him for being here.

On day two of the Conference representatives of the Irish Air Corps and the Irish Coast Guard Helicopter Service will highlight the important contribution both agencies provide in supporting the ground ambulance emergency service. Part of their presentation will include a simulated air rescue, which will provide a practical demonstration of inter-agency teamwork during incidents.

As I mentioned at the outset there has been significant progress in the development of the ambulance service over the past number of years. Much has been achieved and I recognise that much still remains to be done. I would like to assure you that the Department will continue to work with the Health Boards and with the Eastern Regional Health Authority to pursue policy initiatives aimed at ensuring that those calling on the ambulance service receive timely and appropriate care.

Conclusion:

In conclusion may I again thank the Association for inviting me here today. I wish you all a very successful and productive conference and it now gives me great pleasure to formally declare it open.

Thank you