Pensioner crushed under tractor waited more than two hours for ambulance to reach him
A pensioner in Co Tyrone has received an apology after he waited in agony with critical injuries for more than two hours for an ambulance from the Republic of Ireland to reach him.
Noel Moss (68) was working on his vintage tractor at his farm near Castlederg when it rolled over him, crushing his body and leaving him with a broken collarbone and ribs, as well as a cracked pelvis and a fractured jaw.
His family rang for an ambulance and while the rapid response unit arrived within an hour, it was two hours before an ambulance came to take Mr Moss to hospital.
It was sent all the way from southern Co Donegal because at the time of the call there were no ambulances available within the Western Trust.
The nearest available ambulance was in Ballyshannon, which is 34 miles away.
Mr Moss’s son Kevin said there was a degree of confusion by this ambulance crew about which hospital to take his father to.
It was after midnight before his father was finally admitted to Altnagelvin Hospital — almost three hours after the first call for help was made.
“After we rang an ambulance we were waiting well over half-an-hour for the paramedics to arrive in the rapid response car, which was no good for getting him to hospital,” he said.
“They were brilliant and we certainly have no issue with the way they dealt with my father, who was in a bad way. But it was a large ambulance we needed and it didn’t arrive until 10.45pm, and then it came from Ballyshannon.
“They didn’t know what hospital to take my father to — whether to go to Letterkenny or Altnagelvin — but he was eventually admitted to Altnagelvin shortly after midnight.
“My father has only just come out of an induced coma but he is still in the high dependency unit because he was critically ill.
“We are grateful he is still with us because if he had any internal bleeding he would have certainly died waiting on an ambulance to take him to hospital.
“We understand we live in a rural area, but waiting for two hours on an ambulance is too much to wait, especially when it is such a serious accident.”
Sinn Fein councillor Kieran McGuire said he will raise the matter with the Ambulance Service on behalf of the family.
“The Moss family are rightly angered by this turn of events and want to highlight that this area continues to be a black spot for emergency ambulance cover where the so-called ‘golden hour’ response time just does not apply,” he said.
The golden hour is the key period after traumatic injuries in which prompt medical treatment will prevent the death of a patient.
“I, along with other Sinn Fein representatives for the Castlederg area, have been highlighting this problem, with many unfortunate examples down the years, and lobbying for full-time provision to be made at Castlederg ambulance station to resolve the problem,” added Mr McGuire. “The plight of Noel Moss shows that the time for Ambulance Service chiefs to act is now long overdue.”
Last night a spokesman for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said sorry for how it had dealt with the callout.
“The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service would apologise unreservedly for the delay in providing transport to hospital experienced by Mr Moss,” he said.
“NI Ambulance Service is focused on providing the most appropriate and timely response to patients in life-threatening situations in order to ensure treatment is provided at the earliest opportunity.
“The trust was unable to immediately allocate a transporting vehicle to support the rapid response vehicle paramedic as all crews in the area were engaged on other calls.
“During the call the RRV paramedic contacted control to highlight the urgent need for an A&E crew to arrive.
“We also contacted the National Ambulance Service in the Republic of Ireland, with whom we have a memorandum of understanding to provide mutual assistance in border areas.
“They advised that they were able to dispatch a crew who would be in a position to respond earlier than the NIAS crews dispatched from Enniskillen.
“The NAS crew arrived at the scene at 10.26pm and assisted the NIAS paramedic before leaving the scene at 11.03pm and taking Mr Moss to Altnagelvin Hospital.
“The NIAS RRV paramedic accompanied the crew to the hospital.
“NIAS is happy to meet with Mr Moss and his family to discuss the incident and issue a personal apology.”