Details of the plan are contained in a market-sounding information exercise published recently seeking interest from potential providers in the service.
The plan notes that the NAS and DFB want to “enhance their ability to provide life-saving emergency aid to patients on occasions where time is critical and while responding emergency ambulance resources are en route to an incident”.
The HSE defines a CFR as a person who is “trained as a minimum in basic life support and the use of a defibrillator, who attends an actual or potentially life-threatening emergency”.
The NAS already has an alert system in place to mobilise GPs (who voluntarily give up their time) to attend emergency call-outs. There are about 160 such GPs nationally.
The plan comes amid ongoing concern among commentators nationally regarding the NAS’s ability to respond to ambulance call-outs in a timely fashion.
It is understood that the proposed system will build on the ability to mobilise a defined number of CFRs to emergency incidents relevant to their current location.
It also aims to improve on the “ability for ambulance control to identify mobilised CFRs and stand them down as required”.
The system seeks to provide options for GPS location-based response by CFRs who currently only respond in their community.
According to the HSE, there are 174 CFR groups in the Republic of Ireland covering 22 counties, with the number of groups to rise to 250 by 2020.
“There are approximately 2,000-2,500 CFRs who provide life-saving emergency assistance in Ireland. Mobilisation of these CFRs is the sole responsibility of NAS and DFB,” the HSE stated.
“The system will be required to integrate safely and seamlessly with the existing CAD [computer aided dispatch] systems, with minimal impact on the current dispatching protocols in ambulance control. The successful provider will be required to provide the necessary services to implement and support the technical integration of the system.”
Meetings with potential system providers are due to be held on 18-19 June, after which time a decision on whether to officially tender for the service will be made.