Logo of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust (NIAS) is the ambulance service that serves the whole of Northern Ireland. As with other ambulance services in the United Kingdom, it does not charge its patients directly for its services, but instead receives funding through general taxation. It responds to medical emergencies in Northern Ireland with the 300-plus ambulance vehicles at its disposal. Its fleet includes mini-buses, ambulance officers’ cars, support vehicles, RRVs and accident and emergency ambulances.
Ambulance in Ann Street, Belfast, October 2009
The Service employs approximately 1,100 staff based across 57 stations & sub-stations, 2 Control Centres (Emergency and Non-emergency) and a Regional Ambulance Training Centre. It responds to approximately 140,000 emergency (999) calls per year (with the number of 999 calls is increasing per year) with a combination of traditional emergency ambulances with two crew members, and rapid response vehicles (RRVs) crewed by a single paramedic. RRV’s respond mostly to calls where there is a potential immediate life-threat (Category A) because they can respond more quickly than a conventional ambulance. Double-crew ambulances respond to both Emergency and Non-emergency (Healthcare Professional-initiated urgent) calls as well as providing critical-care transfers between hospitals. The Trust aims to provide at least one Paramedic to every emergency call by staffing each double-crew, emergency ambulance with two Paramedics or a Paramedic and an Emergency Medical Technician and utilising Rapid Response Vehicles. The Trust has not adopted the use of ECA’s in the way many other UK Ambulance Services have.
In addition to the emergency service, NIAS has a fleet of Patient Care Service vehicles which are used for more routine patient transport to/from hospital, inter-hospital patient transfers and increasingly for GP/Healthcare Professional-initiated [clarification needed] urgent admissions to hospital. Within the Patient Care Service there are both single-crewed ‘sitting case’ (minibus) vehicles as well as double-crewed ‘intermediate care vehicles’ (ICV) which carry a stretcher.
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service was formed on 1 April 1995 through the amalgamation of its 4 predecessors. Its full title is the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust.
Emergency medical services i