Footballer's agonising wait for an ambulance
A GAA footballer who spent eight hours trying to get treatment for a badly broken leg last night appealed for a "common-sense" approach to ambulance management.
It took three delayed responses before Shane Webb (17) got from a Carlow football pitch to Waterford General Hospital, via St Luke's in Kilkenny.
Speaking from his hospital bed yesterday, he praised the paramedics who treated him but said he hoped that his teammates would never face a similar ordeal.
"I don't want that to happen to someone else again -- the whole problem is with the system and how it's set up," he told the Irish Independent.
"At the time the pain was unbearable and I just wanted to be settled down."
At about 8pm on Wednesday, Mr Webb fell awkwardly during the Leinster minor game, snapping his leg in two places. He was playing in the Leinster minor football championship match between Carlow and Westmeath at Dr Cullen Park in Carlow.
The doctor called an ambulance and one was dispatched from Portlaoise, but it took about 50 minutes to reach him.
"When it happened, I was on my backside on the ground and I looked at my leg and I could just see it was bent," he recalled.
"One of my teammates just turned away; he couldn't face it.
"I was sitting and waiting for an hour for an ambulance which could have taken just a couple of minutes."
The paramedics helped to calm him before taking him to St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny, arriving just before 10pm.
"I had morphine in the ambulance but the pain was still unbearable," he said.
At 10.40pm staff told him he had to go to Waterford General Hospital for surgery because of the seriousness of the injury.
An ambulance was sent from Dublin but was rerouted to Naas, Co Kildare to attend to a cardiac-arrest patient. A replacement was dispatched from Carlow.
"I was in a bed in A&E getting bandaged up to prepare me for the journey but I was lying in the bed from 9.56pm until 1.45am in pain," Mr Webb said.
He finally arrived in Waterford at 3.20am and got a bed at 4am -- eight hours after he had been stretchered off the pitch.
The fifth-year student from Gaelcholaiste Cheatharlach in Carlow town -- who plays minor football for the county -- underwent surgery for a double break.
He said: "The problem is with the system and how it is set up. The ambulance crew was great and so were the nurses and doctors; there is no issue there."
His uncle, independent councillor Walter Lacey, raised the issue at a meeting of Carlow Town Council on Thursday.
A statement from the HSE said that on the two occasions when Mr Webb required an ambulance, those in the area were responding to other calls.
However, it said that two were on duty in Carlow, seven days a week from 9am to 12am and at least one overnight.
Kilkenny is covered by two crews on a seven-day, 24-hour basis, while ambulances are also available from a number of adjacent locations.