Ambulances To Be Fitted With Old Man Who Knows Roads ‘Real Well’
“AUL McCarthy, is it? Heart at him?” said Noel Coughlan, the 76-year-old man assigned to a team of paramedics operating out of Carlow General Hospital.
“Right, take the first left out the gate there and we’ll tip on out until we get the petrol station that isn’t there anymore and then we’ll take the fifth left after that”.
Coughlan is one of 100 new ‘direction men’ hired by the HSE following complaints that ambulance services in Ireland do not have functioning navigation systems, leading to paramedic crews relying on their phones or on local advice to reach sick and injured people.
With hospital budgets already stretched past breaking point, the HSE are hoping that the addition of old lads who know everyone living in the area will be enough to help ambulances get to where they need to be in a timely, life-saving manner.
“We’d be lost if it wasn’t for Noel, and I mean literally lost,” said one member of the ambulance crew, following a circuitous route to the home of a stroke victim while listening to a running commentary about every field he passed.
“We were losing too much time trying to find people’s houses on Google maps, asking around for directions, things like that. Now that we have Noel in the cab with us, we can get to where we’re going in no time”.
“Of course, most of the people we’re going to help are lads he went to school with, so he never shuts up about how they fouled him in some under-21s hurling game fifty years ago”.
Minister for Health Simon Harris has made himself unavailable for comment.