CORK City is covered by just three ambulances at night and at weekends, according to new figures.
On weekdays there are five ambulances based in the city, along with a number of intermediate care vehicles which go to the Mallow area during the day.
East Cork has two ambulances during the day and one at night, while Fermoy, Mallow, Kanturk, Macroom, Bantry, Skibbereen, Clonakilty, and Castletownbere all have one each.
The figures were provided to Fianna Fáil Health Spokesman Billy Kelleher following a parliamentary question.
He said: "Cork City has a population in excess of 125,000 people. Having just three full ambulances operating at night, in a city of its size, will leave many communities exposed. There is always a chance that all three ambulances will be in use, and an acute medical emergency occurs.”
Deputy Kelleher said that getting someone to a hospital quickly was a factor in increasing survival rates in emergency situations, and the possibility that all ambulances could be busy at once could prevent people from getting treatment in time..
“Telling a person in need of emergency medical attention, or their family, that normally there is enough cover just doesn’t cut it. They need to get to a hospital as quickly as possible, and if no ambulance is available, their risk of survival is greatly diminished," he said.
Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West Michael Moynihan said that lives could be lost due to the lack of a night-time ambulance in Millstreet.
“The nearest ambulances are located 20 minutes away in either Macroom or Kanturk which is simply too far away.
“What would happen if someone on Main Street, Millstreet had a heart attack at 1am in the morning? How quickly would an ambulance reach him, if one even became available? Millstreet has a population of over 1,500 people. There are many similar sized towns with ambulance cover at night. Why does Millstreet not warrant such a service?" he said.