Saturday 7 December 2019

Elderly woman (85) forced to wait almost three hours for ambulance after falling down stairs at home

Ambulances outside Beaumont Hospital in Dublin
Ambulances outside Beaumont Hospital in Dublin

David Kearns

An 85-year-old woman who fell down the stairs was forced to wait more than 2 hours and 40 minutes before an ambulance responded to her son’s 999 call.

The woman, who had had a hip operation less than four years ago, was left in agonising pain after she tripped coming down the stairs in her home in Artane.

But despite speaking to a 999 operator at 11:30 am this morning, her son Eddie said an ambulance did not arrive at the home until shortly after 2 pm.

“I got a phone call back at 12:20 pm saying that the ambulance wasn’t dispatched,” he told RTÉ’s Liveline.

“They told us they were up to their eye balls and would try to get an ambulance out to us as soon as possible.”

He continued: “I’m flabbergasted… I know everyone has their ups and downs but this is just shocking [especially] given that the hospital is just ten – five minutes away in the car.

“This is the way the system has gone. It’s terrible.”

Asked at what time he called the emergency services, Eddie said: “11:30 this morning… they haven’t arrived yet.”

Host Joe Duffy later informed listeners that an ambulance arrived at the Artane home shortly after 2 pm.

Eddie said he and his sister had been physically unable to lift their mother into a car because she was in “too much pain”.

“After the fall she said she was ok but a hour or two later she wasn’t able to move and she can’t walk.

“We tried to get her up and put her in the car because we live five minutes [in the car] from Beaumont but she’s in too much pain.

“If we could get her into the car, we’d be straight up to the hospital.”

When speaking to the 999 operator earlier this morning, Eddie said he described his mother’s symptoms and was told not to give her any fluids or food “in case she needed an operation.”

“It’s just such a terrible sight,” he said. “To see an 85-year-old woman sitting on a chair in such pain. You can see it in her eyes, she says she’s fine but you can see it.” contacted the National Ambulance Service and the Dublin Fire Brigade Ambulance service regarding the incident, and both said they were not responsible for the slow dispatch following the 999 call.

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