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Saturday 1 October 2016

Family's heartache after father-of-two (25) bled to death while waiting on ambulance

Elaine Keogh

Published 05/11/2015 | 11:19

Dualtagh Donnelly, his partner Lindzie Cooney, and their children Fionn (3) and Caragh (11 months). Photo: Ciara Wilkinson
Dualtagh Donnelly, his partner Lindzie Cooney, and their children Fionn (3) and Caragh (11 months). Photo: Ciara Wilkinson
Dualtagh Donnelly with his two children Fionn (3) and Caragh (11 months). Photo: Ciara Wilkinson Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

The family of a young father who waited more than 20 minutes for a paramedic and nearly 40 minutes for an ambulance, has said it believes he may have survived if an ambulance was there earlier.

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Dualtagh Donnelly’s mother Oonagh and his partner Lindzie Cooney both said it is time for an emergency ambulance to always be on stand-by in his hometown of Dundalk, one of the largest provincial towns in Ireland.

Oonagh said she believes Dualtagh (25) “would be alive today if there was an ambulance with him within 15 minutes.  Always always there should be an ambulance in Dundalk.”

The family said it took nearly 40 minutes for one to arrive although a paramedic arrived in a car, a specially equipped rapid response vehicle (RRV), after 24 minutes.

The HSE say the RRV responded in 23 minutes.

The 999 call was made by his partner Lindzie who is pregnant with the couple’s third child; their house is a 5 minute drive from Dundalk ambulance station which is beside the Louth County Hospital.

Lindzie (23) said Dualtagh cut his arm on a glass panel in the bathroom door of their home in Marion Park, Dundalk in the early hours of Monday the 26th October.

Lindzie said he cut an artery in his right arm and he began losing a lot of blood very quickly.

She tried her best to stop the gash from bleeding and told the ambulance control centre that he was losing consciousness.

She rang 999 at 3.06am and Lindzie says it was 24 minutes until the advanced paramedic in the car arrived; he arrived at the same time as the gardai.

The HSE say the RRV was there after 23 minutes at 3.29am.

Lindzie said Dualtagh was lying on the kitchen floor when the ambulance and crew of paramedics arrived at 3.45am and “it seemed like a short time later that they could not do anymore for him.”

It is not known where the RRV or ambulance which responded to Lindzie’s 999 call, had come from.

Their children Fionn (3) and Caragh (11 months) were in bed at the time and Lindzie is due to give birth to their third child next month.

She said, “If an ambulance had got to him earlier he would not have lost so much blood. What happened was an absolute disgrace, it was too long for an ambulance to come.  It has left me very angry that you wait that long with somebody bleeding to death.”

Lindzie and Oonagh both said the HSE should reopen the emergency department at the Louth County Hospital and, along with Lindzie’s mother Ruby, they said there should always be an ambulance at Dundalk ambulance station.

Ruby Cooney recalled that it is just over a year since her neighbour’s lost their son Conor Byrne (18).  He died outside his house while waiting for an ambulance in July 2014.  It was 27 minutes until one arrived.

At the time his parents Davey and Marguerite pleaded with the newly appointed Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to ensure there was an ambulance available in every town.

Yesterday Ruby Cooney said, “how many more lives have to be lost because of government cutbacks in the health service? The Taoiseach Enda Kenny should resign because of the effect of the government cutbacks on the health service.”

“If it was one of the family members of a politician the person would have been airlifted within seconds while others can die waiting for an ambulance. I believe Dualtagh’s death could have been prevented.”

“There should always be an ambulance standing by in Dundalk, it is one of the biggest towns in Ireland,” Ruby added.

Oonagh said, “This will happen again to some other family so if they could do something (like) have an emergency ambulance sitting at the Louth County Hospital so there is a quicker response.”

“I have that much anger in me, I feel my son died because of politician’s policies.  My son would be alive today if an ambulance service had came within those precious 10-15 minutes,” she added.

“Always, always there should be an ambulance in Dundalk,” she said.

The family has been in contact with Louth deputy and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams about the issue.

In a statement the HSE said the emergency call was received at 3.06am.

It said, “At the time the call was received a number of NAS emergency resources were dealing with other emergency calls and the nearest available emergency resources, a rapid response vehicle with an advanced paramedic on board and an emergency ambulance were dispatched to the incident and arrived at the scene at 03:29 and 03:45hrs.”

"The HSE welcomes feedback from service users in relation to its services. If the family have concerns regarding the response of the National Ambulance Service to this call, the  National Ambulance Service would ask the family to make direct contact with them so that their concerns can be addressed."

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