Northern Ireland Ambulance Service

Last updated

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust
Established1 April 1995
Headquarters Belfast [1]
Region served Northern Ireland
Area size5,345 square miles (13,840 km2)
Population1.9 million
Establishments46 stations and deployment points
ChairNicole Lappin
Chief executiveMichael Bloomfield
Staff1,300 (2018/19) [2]
Website OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS, Irish : Seirbhís Otharchairr Thuaisceart Éireann) is an ambulance service that serves the whole of Northern Ireland, approximately 1.9 million people. 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.



NIAS was formed on 1 April 1995 through the amalgamation of its four predecessors. Its full title is the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust.

The service is split up into five operational areas:

Ambulance in Ann Street, Belfast, October 2009 Belfast (252), October 2009.JPG
Ambulance in Ann Street, Belfast, October 2009


The service employs approximately 1,300 staff of which approximately 420 are paramedics, 300 are emergency medical technicians (EMT) and 100 are control centre staff, which work shift patterns to ensure the service is operational 24/7. They are based across 46 stations and sub-stations, two control centres (emergency and non-emergency) and a regional ambulance training centre. It responds to approximately 201,000 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 (RRV) crewed by a single paramedic. RRVs 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 EMT, and utilising RRV. The trust has not adopted the controversial use of emergency care assistants (ECA) in the way some other UK ambulance services have.

In 2019, the service entered a partnership with the Ulster University to deliver a foundation degree in Paramedic Science, with the first cohort of trainees graduating in December 2019. Further cohorts are scheduled until a BSc honours degree commences in line with future requirements for professional registration of UK paramedics.

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. 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.

In 2016, NIAS was commissioned to provide a helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) for the first time in Northern Ireland, which was by then the only region of the UK not to have one. Following a public consultation, they partnered with the charity Air Ambulance Northern Ireland who provide the aircraft and airbase, with the doctors and paramedics provided by NIAS. The service undertook its first live mission in August 2017.


NIAS currently has a target time of eight minutes to reach the scene of an emergency although, during December 2017 only 47.5% of this target was met therefore the average response time in Northern Ireland was 16 minutes 10 seconds. [3] Currently the trust works with volunteer and private ambulance services to help cope and meet key response times, this is due to the current increased demand and squeeze on public spending across Northern Ireland. [4] Staff have expressed concern by the growing pressures they face and overall low morale across the service. [5] The ambulance service aims to restructure the service to cope with future increased demand.

In September 2018, the ambulance service requested an additional £30 million in funding from the Department of Health to restructure the service and to recruit an additional 300 staff members, most of whom would be Paramedics, EMTs and emergency call takers. This recruitment is meant to quicken response times and relieve pressure on staff. [6] As of May 2022 this funding has yet to be delivered. [7]

In July 2022 NIAS average regional response time was 39 minutes and 31 seconds. [8] The current NIAS Chief Executive Michael Bloomfield has expressed concern and partly blames poor response times on the high number of staff shortages and lengthy waiting time to hand over patients at Emergency Departments. [9]

See also

Related Research Articles

Emergency medical services Services providing acute medical care

Emergency medical services (EMS), also known as ambulance services or paramedic services, are emergency services that provide urgent pre-hospital treatment and stabilisation for serious illness and injuries and transport to definitive care. They may also be known as a first aid squad, FAST squad, emergency squad, ambulance squad, ambulance corps, life squad or by other initialisms such as EMAS or EMARS.

Emergency medical technician Health care provider of emergency medical services

An emergency medical technician (EMT), also known as an ambulance technician, is a health professional that provides emergency medical services. EMTs are most commonly found working in ambulances. In English-speaking countries, paramedics are a separate profession that has additional educational requirements, qualifications, and scope of practice.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paramedic</span> Healthcare professional who works in emergency medical situations

A paramedic is a registered healthcare professional who works autonomously across a range of health and care settings and may specialise in clinical practice, as well as in education, leadership, and research.

Certified first responder Person who provides pre-hospital care for medical emergencies

A certified first responder is a person who has completed a course and received certification in providing pre-hospital care for medical emergencies. Certified individuals should have received much more instruction than someone who is trained in basic first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) but they are not necessarily a substitute for more advanced emergency medical care rendered by emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. First responders typically provide advanced first aid level care, CPR, and automated external defibrillator (AED) usage. The term "certified first responder" is not to be confused with "first responder", which is a generic term referring to the first medically trained responder to arrive on scene and medically trained telecommunication operators who provide pre-arrival medical instructions as trained Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMD). Many police officers and firefighters are required to receive training as certified first responders. Advanced medical care is typically provided by EMS, although some police officers and firefighters also train to become emergency medical technicians or paramedics.

First responder Trained emergency personnel

A first responder is a person with specialized training who is among the first to arrive and provide assistance at the scene of an emergency, such as an accident, natural disaster, or terrorism. First responders typically include law enforcement officers, paramedics, EMT's and firefighters. In some areas, emergency department personnel, such as nurses and doctors, are also required to respond to disasters and critical situations, designating them first responders.

London Ambulance Service Ambulance service in London

The London Ambulance Service NHS Trust (LAS) is an NHS trust responsible for operating ambulances and answering and responding to urgent and emergency medical situations within the London region of England. The service responds to 999 phone calls across the region, and 111 phone calls from certain parts, providing triage and advice to enable an appropriate level of response.

Nontransporting EMS vehicle

A nontransporting EMS vehicle, also known as a fly-car, response vehicle, or fast response vehicle, is a vehicle that responds to and provides emergency medical services (EMS) without the ability to transport patients. For patients whose condition requires transport, an ambulance is necessary. In some cases they may fulfill other duties when not participating in EMS operations, such as policing or fire suppression.

New South Wales Ambulance

NSW Ambulance, previously the Ambulance Service of NSW, is an agency of NSW Health and the statutory provider of pre-hospital emergency care and ambulance services in the state of New South Wales, Australia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Scottish Ambulance Service</span> Scotlands public ambulance services

The Scottish Ambulance Service is part of NHS Scotland, which serves all of Scotland's population. The Scottish Ambulance Service is governed by a special health board and is funded directly by the Health and Social Care Directorates of the Scottish Government.

Welsh Ambulance Service NHS trust and ambulance service in Wales

The Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust is the national ambulance service for Wales. It was established on 1 April 1998 and as of December 2018 has 3,400 staff providing ambulance and related services to the 3 million residents of Wales.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service UK public sector provider of ambulance services in Yorkshire, England (2006- )

The Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) is the NHS ambulance service covering most of Yorkshire in England. It is one of ten NHS Ambulance Trusts providing England with emergency medical services as part of the National Health Service it receives direct government funding for its role.

East of England Ambulance Service Ambulance service in England

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) is an NHS trust responsible for providing National Health Service (NHS) ambulance services in the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, in the East of England region. These consist of approximately 6.2 million people across an area of 7,500 square miles (19,000 km2).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">West Midlands Ambulance Service</span> Ambulance trust in England

The West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust (WMAS) is responsible for providing NHS ambulance services within the West Midlands region of England. It is one of ten ambulance trusts providing England with emergency medical services, and is part of the National Health Service.

Louisville Metro EMS

Louisville Metro Emergency Medical Services is the primary provider of pre-hospital life support and emergency care within Louisville-Jefferson County, Kentucky. LMEMS is a governmental department that averages 90,000 calls for service, both emergency and non-emergency, each year.

Emergency medical services in the United States Overview of emergency medical services in the United States

In the United States, emergency medical services (EMS) provide out-of-hospital acute medical care and/or transport to definitive care for those in need. They are regulated at the most basic level by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which sets the minimum standards that all states' EMS providers must meet, and regulated more strictly by individual state governments, which often require higher standards from the services they oversee.

Emergency medical services in the United Kingdom Overview of emergency medical services in the United Kingdom

Emergency medical services in the United Kingdom provide emergency care to people with acute illness or injury and are predominantly provided free at the point of use by the four National Health Services (NHS) of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Emergency care including ambulance and emergency department treatment is only free to UK residents and a charge may be made to those not entitled to free NHS care. The NHS commissions most emergency medical services through the 14 NHS organisations with ambulance responsibility across the UK.

The National Ambulance Service is the statutory public ambulance service in Ireland. The service is operated by the National Hospitals Office of the Health Service Executive, the Irish national healthcare authority.


The Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) is an independent statutory organisation responsible for implementing, monitoring and further developing the standards of care provided by all statutory, private and voluntary ambulance services in Ireland. It is also responsible for conducting examinations at six levels of pre-hospital care, the control of ambulance practitioner registration and the publication of clinical practice guidelines.

Emergency medical services in Austria

Emergency Medical Service in Austria is a service of public pre-hospital emergency healthcare, including ambulance service, provided by individual Austrian municipalities, cities and counties. It is primarily financed by the Austrian health insurance companies.

Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT) is a charity air ambulance service providing a free, life-saving Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) for the critically ill and injured of Essex, Hertfordshire and surrounding areas.


  1. "Area Contact Details". Northern Ireland Ambulance Service. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  2. "Annual Report and Accounts for Year Ended 31 March 2019" (PDF). Northern Ireland Ambulance Service. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  3. "A Meeting of Trust Board" (PDF). Northern Ireland Ambulance Service. 1 February 2018. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  4. "St John's Ambulance thanks Northern Ireland volunteers for work over busy winter". ISSN   0307-1235 . Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  5. "We've no confidence in bosses, Northern Ireland Ambulance Service staff say". ISSN   0307-1235 . Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  6. Rice, Clodagh (27 September 2018). "Demand jumps for NI ambulance services". BBC News. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  7. McAleese, Deborah (11 May 2022). "Ambulance chief warns of five-year wait to meet current demand". ITV News. Retrieved 31 August 2022.
  8. [ bare URL PDF ]
  9. "NI health crisis: Ambulance delays 'possible factor' in 14 deaths". BBC News. 6 April 2022. Retrieved 29 August 2022.