999 crews are facing tougher task than ever

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The ongoing strain on ambulance services across the area has been highlighted by stark figures released this week.

The statistics, which were obtained after the Times submitted a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request, illustrate the potentially dangerous gaps in staffing coverage.

The issue came to light after a Facebook post by local police on December 11, which stated that the only ambulance in service across Whiteabbey, Larne and Carrickfergus had been unavailable to attend call-outs due to an incident the previous day.

Police and NIAS spokespersons were quick to state in the days following that there had been ample coverage.

However, the figures obtained by the Times with regards to the coverage on December 10, show that staff from across East Antrim had to join up to make a full ambulance crew. The figures from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service explained how there are two set shifts.

On the day shift in Larne, four staff were meant to be working. In reality, there was only one staff member. In Whiteabbey, two staff were scheduled to be on. However, there was only one working. In Carrick, the two planned staff members were working.

Commenting on the coverage, a NIAS spokesperson said: “The one member of staff available on day shift in Larne was joined up with the single colleague available in Whiteabbey to make a full crew.”

On the night shift, two staff were meant to be on in Larne. On the date in question, none were there.

In Carrick, two were planned, with one actually being on. In Whiteabbey, the two planned staff spaces were covered.