Dublin airport apologises for disabling ambulance

Ireland’s major airport pledged on Tuesday not to clamp any more ambulances—after one was disabled while trying to ferry a seriously injured passenger to a Dublin hospital.

Saturday’s clamping of the ambulance at Dublin International airport made front-page news on Tuesday and fanned public anger at clampers in Ireland’s capital, where the practice was introduced in 1997. City authorities said this was the first known case of a clamped ambulance.

At the airport, police use clamps to enforce a no-parking rule outside the arrivals entrance and instead require cars to use a nearby multistory parking lot. But on Saturday, an ambulance was clamped even though it was parked in a section reserved for emergency crews immediately outside the entrance.

David Hall, owner of the privately run Life Line Ambulances, said his company’s 18 ambulances had used the airport emergency-parking area for the past six years “all the time” without trouble.

“It’s mind-blowing,” Hall said.
“No inquiries were made about the patient, to find out how acutely ill they were before the clamp was applied.”

Hall declined to identify the patient or illness, but said the episode had distressed the patient and embarrassed the ambulance crew. Irish media identified the patient as a man in his 30s who had been badly injured while on a skiing vacation.

“The airport police could have easily made a phone call to the owner of the company—me—if there was a problem,” Hall said.

“You don’t just apply a clamp to an ambulance on an experimental basis.”

The police also refused to accept the ambulance company’s credit card to pay the â,¬63 fine. Instead, paramedics were required to withdraw their cash from an automated teller machine.

Dublin Airport Authority spokesperson Siobhan Moore said the event was “deeply regrettable.”

Moore said police clamped the vehicle because it had remained for about 30 minutes in the emergency area, which was supposed to be reserved for what she called “life or death cases” involving immediate pickups.

But she said airport managers would refund the charge and review policies to ensure that an ambulance wasn’t clamped again. - Sapa-AP

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