Sunday 25 September 2016

I might have saved woman who waited half hour for ambulance – paramedic

Elaine Keogh

Published 16/03/2016 | 02:30

A paramedic says a patient may have 'needlessly lost her life' after an ambulance was sent from 30km away when he was just 12 minutes away. Stock picture
A paramedic says a patient may have 'needlessly lost her life' after an ambulance was sent from 30km away when he was just 12 minutes away. Stock picture

A paramedic says a patient may have “needlessly lost her life” after an ambulance was sent from 30km away when he was just 12 minutes away.

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The staff member has accused the ambulance service of not following strict protocols in the incident.

The allegation relates to its response to a 999 call earlier this year, and it is outlined in a leaked internal communication sent by an advanced paramedic to his supervisors.

The woman passed away in hospital the following day.

However, it is not known if the HSE or the ambulance service has spoken to the woman’s family about the alleged failure.

In the report, the paramedic states that he was the nearest available resource to the woman, but he was not dispatched as early as he should have been.

Instead he claims that an ambulance was dispatched which was 30km, or a journey time of up to 30 minutes, from her.

He says he was a 12-minute journey away but was not alerted about the emergency until later.

He says there was “an unnecessary delay in the provision of clinical care which may have, had this care been provided earlier on in the patient’s crisis, resulted in a more favourable clinical outcome.”

The advanced paramedic said in his adverse clinical event report that the incident involves a person “who may have needlessly lost her life”.

He said there was “a gross failure on behalf of the national ambulance service to respond appropriately and effectively to the initial request for medical assistance due to deviation from the advanced medical priority dispatch standards in not deploying a resource that was closest in proximity to the medical emergency”.

Equipped

Advanced paramedics work on their own in equipped cars known as rapid response vehicles (RRVs).

If they are nearer to an incident than an ambulance, they are dispatched to provide care before the ambulance arrives.

However, RRVs cannot transport someone to hospital and if there is a cardiac incident, they require back-up.

The HSE, on behalf of the ambulance service, confirmed that a 112/999 call was received at the location and date he gave.

“The call was triaged, using the recognised protocols and standards of the Advanced Medical Priority Dispatch System in accordance with internationally recognised protocols.”

Three minutes later, the emergency call dispatcher “immediately tasked the appropriate resource”.

“This resource was crewed with an advanced paramedic and paramedic,” it added.

The vehicle arrived on scene 28 minutes later.

The statement also said: “The emergency call taker remained on the telephone and offered assistance to the caller until the arrival of the first resources.”

That second resource, believed to be the paramedic who has raised the incident with his supervisors,  did not arrive until some 17 minutes after the ambulance.

The National Ambulance Service was asked if the family of the woman was informed of his concerns but it did not respond.

Neither did it respond when asked what has been the outcome of the paramedic raising his concerns.

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