Sunday, 18 April 2010


It's been an eventful holiday one way and another. We spent a miserable day in Limerick Regional Hospital's A&E waiting room before being sent home for lack of a bed. By the next morning, Sarah (who was extremely ill) collapsed and had to be taken right back there by ambulance, a journey of over an hour. The paramedics were absolutely fantastic, a jovial yet highly professional crowd. All of the medical staff were truly marvellous: kind, good-natured and funny.

We owe the doctors, nurses and staff at Thurles Ambulance Service and Limerick Regional a huge thank you.

Despite that, Ireland's health service is obviously at breaking point - even from our limited experience you could see it was dangerously under-resourced and over-managed. I was infuriated by the fussy bureaucrat in admissions who insisted on calling me rather than letting me call them to check on the availability of a bed - only to find out when it came to the crunch that they actually couldn't call me as I had a UAE mobile and their lines were barred from international calls. We only found out we had a bed when I called back in desperation post-collapse. I pointed out this was perhaps an issue worth escalating in case of other international travellers being in our situation only to get a repeated response of 'that's not my issue, it's nothing to do with me, that'. I understand, I said, but perhaps you could flag it to management because as it happened it was a somewhat dangerous situation. 'That's nothing to do with me, it's not my responsibility.'


And of course, the one time we decide to spend a week offline in a totally remote lighthouse in the middle of nowhere (well, West of Kinsale, anyway) is the one time we needed online access - when Iceland's most unpronounceable volcano erupted and spewed ash across Europe's airspace, everyone was directed to airline websites (the airlines having worked out that websites are really cool at informing customers rather than actually talking to them). Aer Lingus are as good at not answering the phone as Limerick Regional's bureaucrats are at avoiding responsibility. In fact, we haven't managed to get through to a human once all week - despite tens of calls every day.

Our flight out of Cork got canned so we've gone north to stay with the in-laws in Dundalk - we'll be flying out of Dublin as and when we do get away. In the meantime, it's lots of following aviation sites on Twitter, watching the news and drinking Guinness.

Well, even clouds packed with volcanic dust must have their silver lining...


EyeOnDubai said...

Good to hear you're through the medical crisis, and in the best place to recover.


Susan said...

Marooned on the west coast of Scotland :-( There are worse places to be marooned but its still frustrating not having any clue when this will all end. The doom-mongers on radio 4 have volcano "experts" on saying the last time this happened it erupted for two years!

Emirates UK office are doing a great chocolate teapot act! A very depressed sounding guys says - "due to the high volume of enquiries no calls will be answered" Huh???

To be fair they know as little as we do but a more ....ummm helpful answering machine message might be helpful!

Hope Sarah's feeling better!

Oussama said...

Good to hear all is well on the medical front. As for "THE VOLCANO" since no one seems to know how to pronounce the name it is certainly wreaking havoc and we may still see the extinction of a few dinosaurs (legacy airlines) in Europe.
Mean while you just relax and enjoy the social media and of course the Guinness, a silver lining indeed.

Seabee said...

Medical problems when you're away from home are a nightmare aren't they - glad yours seem to be over.

I've just heard on BBC that nearly 7 million people are stranded in various places, so it'll be chaos for weeks after they lift the ban. I'm sure Spot On will be understanding if you stay put and enjoy an extended holiday :-)

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