Building a Better Health Service

Your Health

New partnership between National Ambulance Service and charity CRITICAL

 7 Members of the National Ambulance Service and charity CRITICAL standing outside in a leafy area. In front of them are 2 large  red CRITICAL medical bags


“I am confident that more lives will be saved - through the tremendous dedication of our patient-centred staff who volunteer whilst off duty and now with this very welcome partnership with CRITICAL,” according to Ger O’Dea, Community Engagement Manager with the HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS).

Ger was welcoming a new partnership between NAS and the emergency medical response charity CRITICAL, which will see NAS staff, who volunteer as responders when off-duty, supplied with vital life-saving equipment.


Ger added that “building resilience in communities around Ireland is of great importance to the National Ambulance Service. The ambulance service will always dispatch the nearest and most appropriate resource to an emergency call, but given the geographical nature of Ireland with factors such as our road networks, traffic and journey time, we cannot get to every patient as timely as we would like. Enabling our communities to provide a first response to life-threatening emergencies is extremely important. I would like to take this opportunity to thank CRITICAL for their hard work and dedication in providing a volunteer emergency first-response network in communities around the country. We look forward to working closely with them in the future.”

The new partnership was announced in July 2023, and, as a result, NAS off-duty responders will be able to volunteer with the charity while responding to potentially life-threatening emergencies in their local communities.

As part of the partnership, CRITICAL will provide vital equipment to off-duty Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), paramedics, and advanced paramedics who are tasked to incidents such as road traffic collisions, cardiac arrests, farming accidents and other medical or traumatic accidents. They will respond to these taskings as part of the NAS Staff Off Duty Response Scheme which has been in operation for almost 20 years.

As part of the arrangement, NAS Off Duty Response Scheme members who join CRITICAL will be provided with an emergency backpack containing a defibrillator, a resuscitation kit and a medical diagnostic kit.  Working closely with the National Ambulance Service, CRITICAL is now focused on establishing a network of Volunteer Emergency Medical Responders in every county in Ireland over the next two years.

Micheál Sheridan, CEO of CRITICAL, added that “community-based and medically-trained first responders are an integral part of how we as a society respond to emergencies and traumatic accidents. This partnership with the National Ambulance Service will initially see 150 off-duty NAS personnel also volunteering with CRITICAL, starting treatment while an ambulance is on its way and increasing a person’s chances of survival or improving their outcomes. Every second counts in medical emergencies. For example, in the case of cardiac arrest, a person's chances of survival decrease by 10% for every minute that elapses. Initially, we are committing €220,000 in rolling out volunteer Emergency Medical Responders to communities across Ireland.”