Tuesday 18 June 2019

'Everyone has the right to live' - Woman's anger over ambulance delay on morning husband collapsed and died at home

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Sasha Brady

A grieving Galway woman has raised concerns over emergency services in Connemara after she waited 35 minutes for an ambulance to arrive when her collapsed and died at home.

Brid Molloy's 52-year-old husband Kevin collapsed and died at their home in Carraroe, Co Galway on January 25.

Mrs Molloy said she made a call to the National Ambulance Service (NAS) when her husband collapsed at about 11.39am.

She had managed to resuscitate him for a period using CPR. However, as an ambulance was too far away, South Connemara GP Peter Sloane was called to attend the emergency.

Speaking to Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTÉ Radio One, Dr Sloane said he was running a "busy surgery" on the morning he got the call from the NAS.

He said he went directly to the Molloy's home with his defibrillator where he found Brid performing "very effective" CPR on her husband.

However, the pair were unable to save Kevin's life. He died at about 1.15pm at home.

Dr Sloane said without the paramedics, resuscitation attempts eventually became a futile exercise.

"With all the the best will in the world a single-handed, well trained GP cannot provide the degree of resuscitative care that trained paramedics can," said Dr Sloane.

"Community first-responders simply can't do as good a job. If an ambulance arrives with trained paramedics, it's at least two sets of hands, they have more equipment, they have an ambulance."

The cause of Kevin's death is not yet clear. The family are awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination.

Dr Sloane said after he returned to his office on the day of Mr Molloy's death he felt "completely despondent".

"I was very angry at the fact that as a taxpayer and a local, when I might need an ambulance myself - or my family, or anybody else in this community - that we pay taxes and we should be entitled to have an emergency service that is available to us.

"If we look at everything we pay for in the State, our health is one of our most priceless things we have.

"In our hour of need, in a life-threatening emergency, any citizen anywhere in the State should be able to expect an ambulance is available within a judicious time," he said.

Dr Sloane said that Carraroe has an ambulance base but "it very often does not have paramedics in it to provide cover to the area".

He said GPs in the area are now acting as a surrogate for emergency services.

Dr Sloane said that he has "given up counting" the number of times he was required to intervene in an emergency when ambulances were long distances away.

He described an emergency situation last year where he had to save the life of a 60-year-old man at 1am "in the pitch black, at the side of the road". The ambulance was 57 minutes away.

He also recalled a time when a child who was choking was taken to hospital in Galway University Hospital in a garda car.

Dr Sloane said ambulance cover is so bad that their local service can be required to attend to emergencies hours away at any given time.

He said he made an emergency call to services in Carraroe and was told "if I had phoned two minutes later they would have been gone to Belmullet which is in excess of a two-hour drive from here".

Dr Sloane stressed that the paramedics who are employed do a fantastic job but the service is underfunded and understaffed.

Speaking about her husband's death, Brid Molloy said she hopes similar tragedies can be avoided.

"Everyone has a right to get a chance to live and I don't want this happening in our area in the near future.

"[The Government] needs to come up with a plan so no one is left wondering 'when is somebody going to come and help me?'"

Brid said her husband had been in good health before he died. He had just completed a carer's course and was looking forward to starting a new chapter in his life.

In a statement, the NAS said that there is an "ongoing campaign" for paramedic recruitment.

Speaking about Kevin Molloy's death, the NAS said they received an emergency 999/112 call at 11.39am on January 25 for Carraroe, Co Galway.

"At the time the call was received, a number of NAS resources were engaged on a number of emergency calls and the nearest available emergency ambulance service was dispatched to the incident and arrived at 12.15pm.

"A second NAS resourced and the emergency aero medical service was also called."

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