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Cop out Gardai raise concerns as they are forced to bring injured people to hospital in emergencies

'Our members aren’t qualified and don’t have the training to do that'

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Frontline gardai have expressed concerns about the fact they are being forced to act as ambulances in bringing injured people to hospital in emergencies. 

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) says gardaí are routinely dispatched to situations that are "purely medical".

They are then put in a position where they have to make decisions without the relevant medical knowledge or training.

“Gardaí and our colleagues in the National Ambulance Service have always had a crossover,” Brendan O'Connor, GRA Vice President told Newstalk.

“There are numerous occasions where we’d need to assist them, from something as simple as assisting with lifting a patient [to] if there was a public order element.

“But what we’ve been seeing in recent times is gardaí being sent to calls, where an ambulance is not available or in advance of the arrival of an ambulance.”

Mr O’Connor referred to two recent occasions, in Dundalk and Donegal, when gardaí at the scene of an incident had to decide whether or not to put a patient in a Garda car as an ambulance had yet to arrive.

"The guards found themselves in a position where they had to make a decision whether it was appropriate to place the person in a car and bring them to hospital,” he said.

“Our members aren’t qualified and don’t have the training to do that."

He said gardaí simply don't have the medical knowledge to be making these decisions - and it's "inappropriate and not exactly good practice" to put gardaí in such a position.

Mr O'Connor says he doesn’t know why gardaí are being sent instead of a paramedic or other first responder, and they'll be raising the issue with the Garda Commission.

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He also suggested a clear protocol is needed on how to handle such situations, as well as clarity over the role and responsibility of gardaí who respond to these emergency calls.

“We just find ourselves in a very strange situation, where our members are asking ‘what is our role and what is our responsibility’. Why are we are being tasked with the role of another emergency service’.”

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