Sunday 16 December 2018

No ambulance available for elderly woman (87) after fall... until Liveline call

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Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A woman whose elderly mother had fallen was told there was no ambulance available until after she called Joe Duffy's Liveline when one was dispatched.

The caller, Carol, explained that her 87-year-old mother Joan fell backwards and hit her head at home.

In her effort to pull herself to the kitchen cupboards she activated a wearable panic alarm on her arm and her daughter was alerted.

The Carelink team - who operate the alarm - first called an ambulance when Carol arrived at her mum's house to find her mum weak and in pain on the floor.

"We waited half an hour after that and I called 999 myself to be told there is nobody on the way and they don't know when they'll get somebody out," Carol told the RTÉ Radio One show.

"They had no advice to give me, just wait... and that's what we are doing."

Carol called Liveline an hour and 15 minutes after she called the ambulance.

"We could have walked to Beaumont twice in the length of time she has been lying here," she said.

A GP on the other line was able to give her some advice including to keep her mother warm.

However, after hearing the call on Liveline a HSE staff member got in touch with the show and an ambulance was dispatched.

It is not clear what cause the approximately 90 minute delay.

In a statement DFB said:

"This call was processed as normal and prioritised as per best clinical practice.

"Dublin Fire Brigade had no ambulances available. Dublin Fire Brigade requested HSE NAS for a resource as per normal agreed protocol in this case and unfortunately NAS was unable to provide a resource.  When Dublin Fire Brigade have no ambulances it may mobilise fire appliances crewed with paramedics to render medical aid in advance of an ambulance attendance."

The HSE said it dispatched an ambulance within four minutes once the urgency of the matter became apparent on Liveline.

Under current procedures in the capital ambulance calls are picked up by the fire brigade and the HSE National Ambulance Service is requested if there is no capacity for the call.

The NAS responds to the most urgent cases as per their resources and the remaining calls are diverted back to DFB.

Neither the HSE nor DFB were in a position on Thursday night to clarify a time-line as to when the call was notified to the HSE or why there was a delay.

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