Sunday 18 March 2018

Dying man brought to hospital in back of van after ambulance delay

Elaine Keogh

A GOOD Samaritan who took a dying man to hospital in the back of his van because of an ambulance delay has claimed there were three empty ambulances when he got there.

Peter Sherlock (52) died shortly after Billy Doyle (50) drove him to the emergency department at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth.

It took less than three minutes to drive there from Constitution Hill, Drogheda, where Mr Doyle had seen Mr Sherlock lying on the ground.

An ambulance had been dispatched from Navan, Co Meath, 26km away -- and a journey of about 25 minutes -- but Mr Doyle decided it would be quicker for him to take Mr Sherlock to hospital himself.

When he arrived at the hospital, he said there were three ambulances parked with their doors open. "It beggars belief that in this day and age of instant communication, how the Health Service Executive could not get in touch with an ambulance in Drogheda," Mr Doyle said yesterday.

The HSE said last night that all its ambulances in the immediate vicinity of the incident were in use. "Vehicles that are stationed in the Drogheda area were tasked on calls at the time and were actively dealing with patients and the release of one of these ambulances was being actively pursued at the time by ambulance control," a spokeswoman said.

The HSE added that the closest available ambulance was dispatched from Navan but was later cancelled when the patient was brought to hospital in a private vehicle. The incident happened last Thursday morning when Mr Doyle, an unemployed builder, was driving through Drogheda. He saw a group of people around a man lying on a footpath and pulled in. "He was unconscious and really struggling for breath," Mr Doyle said. "A man said he had rung an ambulance a couple of minutes before."

The first call was made at 10.02am. A second call at 10.15am discovered that an ambulance was on its way but had been dispatched from Navan.

Instead of waiting, Mr Doyle got the unconscious man into the back of his van at 10.20am, arriving at the hospital minutes later.

Medical staff came out and attended to Mr Sherlock but he was pronounced dead a short time later. It is thought he suffered a heart attack.

Drogheda-based TD Gerald Nash has called on the Health, Information and Quality Authority to investigate.

Mr Sherlock's family declined to comment last night.

Irish Independent

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