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07 Aug 2022

Locked gates cause for concern with Longford emergency services

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Principal of St Mel's College Declan Rowley has said that the college is open to an arrangement with the HSE to allow the air corps helicopter to land on the grounds in cases of emergency.

The statement comes after an ambulance couldn't get to the helicopter on Saturday because the school was locked up for the summer.

An eye witness living nearby told the Longford Leader that the patient was tended to by paramedics for ten minutes in an ambulance outside the grounds while helicopter crew tried to break a padlock on the gate so they could airlift the patient to hospital.

“It was a terror to see the pilot and copilot trying to break the lock and someone's life at stake,” said the eye witness.

It's been approximately a year since a helicopter landed in the grounds of St Mel's College, according to Declan Rowley, who was unaware of the incident until after it had happened.

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“It was always an informal arrangement and it was assumed that the gates would be open, which is not a good assumption as the school is locked up for the summer so people can't just walk in,” Mr Rowley told the Leader.

“If a helicopter wants to land in the grounds, there's no issue with that. We'll give the key and codes to anyone who needs them.”

The incident has highlighted the need for more places to land, should someone need to be airlifted in future, according to Mr Rowley.

“It's proof we need to have a couple of places on alert, so something like this doesn't happen again,” he said.

And, he added, St Mel's College is absolutely open to an arrangement with the HSE that will prevent emergency vehicles from getting into such difficulty again.

The HSE was contacted for comment by the Longford Leader by email on Monday and by phone on Tuesday. At the time of print, so statement had yet been released.

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