The plight of ambulance cover was highlighted recently when a band’s guitarist took a heart attack and his replacement arrived before emergency services.
Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon emphasised the concerning issue in the Assembly following the collapse of the musician at a south Armagh GAA club night.
She said she was deeply disappointed at a Ministerial reply to her question.
The South Armagh representative said the Health Minister’s response would provide little comfort to the people of the area.
“Ambulance cover in South Armagh has been a huge issue for years now,” she said.
“Recently I asked the Minister to outline what steps were being taken to improve ambulance cover in South Armagh.
“A week after that we got a terrible illustration of just how bad the problem is when a guitarist took a heart attack during a gig in a South Armagh GAA club.
“Thankfully, he is fine and the paramedics who treated him were exceptional, however, the band playing was able to call a replacement guitarist who, at short notice, was able to come from Banbridge and was on stage playing before the ambulance even arrived.”
She added: “This is an incredibly serious issue; literally life and death, which is why, firstly, I’m hugely disappointed that it took the Minister five weeks to reply to my question.
“His answer, when it did come, hurried out in the last days of the Assembly, contained nothing of substance for the people of the area.
“He even went so far as to cite the First Responder Scheme in his reply, an organisation set up by the community because of the lack of adequate ambulance cover in the area. I find it astonishing that the Minister is now relying on a community group that was set up to try and offset the potentially tragic consequences of his failure to provide proper ambulance cover for South Armagh.
“This is not a criticism of the paramedics, who do an outstanding job with the resources they are given, this is an issue of the distribution of those resources and it seems quite clear to me that the Minister has decided the people of South Armagh can just do without.
“It’s unacceptable and neither myself, nor the people of south Armagh, are going to stand for it.”