Press Release

DFB Ambulance Service marks 120th Anniversary with call to safeguard its operation

Date Released: 05 January 2019

SIPTU members in the Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) Emergency Medical Service are marking the 120th Anniversary of the start of the service today (Saturday, 5th January) with a call for the safeguarding of its future operation.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Brendan O’Brien, said: “Today marks the 120th Anniversary of the commencement of an ambulance service operated by Dublin Fire Brigade. The initial horse-drawn ambulance was designed by Chief Fire Officer Captain Thomas Purcell and was based on similar emergency vehicles in service in Chicago in the United States.

“The first emergency which the ambulance responded to was an accident which had occurred on a trawler, The Curlew, which was fishing off the Rockabill Lighthouse when its net got snagged underwater causing the line to snap. This resulted in injuries to two of the vessel’s crew. One of them, Thomas Smyth, was severely injured.

“The vessel docked at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay where the DFB ambulance met it. Firefighters Joe Kiernan, Tom Dunphy and William O'Brien, treated the patients at the scene, Smyth was subsequently transferred to Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital.”

He added: “The great-grandson of Joe Kiernan, who responded to that first emergency call out, is currently a serving DFB Station Officer in North Strand. The proud family tradition of service by the Kiernan family in the DFB is also being maintained by his great-great-grandson, Karl Kiernan, who has recently started in the retained fire service in Skerries, County Dublin.” 

SIPTU DFB Section Chair, Deirdre Taylor, said: “Over the past 120 years the DFB ambulance service has developed into an internationally renowned fire-based Emergency Medical Service. A survey of customers response to the service found that it had a 98% satisfaction rating, this is despite its chronic under-resourcing and a lack of investment.  

“The DFB Emergency Medical Service responds to 35% of all emergency ambulance calls in Ireland on an annual budget of approximately €9 million, which is 7% of the national ambulance budget.”

She added: “Unfortunately, on the 120th Anniversary of the commencement of the service, we find ourselves in a struggle to maintain it. Thankfully, our members in Dublin Fire Brigade have received great public and political support to protect this excellent public service.

“That continued support will be needed in 2019 to ensure that future generations of Dubliners will be able to rely on the DFB Emergency Medical Service in their time of need.”

 


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