A Courtown woman whose mother waited for two and a half hours for an ambulance to arrive following a fall has described the worry and helplessness she experienced when trying to access emergency support.
The woman, who does not wish to be named, received a call from her brother and mother’s carer to say that the 79-year-old had fallen in the kitchen on Saturday of the June bank holiday weekend. She went to the house and phoned emergency services, who asked some questions regarding her mother’s breathing, bleeding and consciousness. As her mother has osteoarthritis and a hip problem, the family were worried that her hip may be broken.
“Mum was very nervous and very confused. She couldn’t look at her leg and wrist because of the blood. She has really bad problems with the skin on her legs so we wrapped them and her wrists in towels,” explained the woman. “I rang the ambulance again at 8.20 p.m. to see how long they would take. They told me then that there was no available ambulance in the area.”
When she asked about a timeframe for the ambulance’s arrival, the person on the phone did not know, but said that they would send one when it became available.
Unsure what to do, the woman decided to phone Caredoc, who she said answered the phone right away. However, while they were advised that an emergency Caredoc would be sent to assess their mother, they waited another hour before receiving any further contact from them.
“They rang back at around 9.45 p.m. I know they have only one Caredoc in Gorey so they must be under their own pressures as well. He did ask how mum was and whether she was speaking,” she said.
By that time, the family had been phoned by the ambulance to say they were on their way.
“I told the Caredoc that the ambulance was due to come in 20 minutes so there was no need to come anymore.”
Despite being told not to move their mother while waiting for the ambulance, the woman and her family decided that it was necessary as the long wait was making her uncomfortable.
“Mum was getting extremely uncomfortable on the floor. In the first call to the ambulance, they said not to move her and not to give her water. That’s normal. But she couldn’t lie on the floor in the position she was in so we had to move her. My cousin came over and between myself and herself, we moved her on to a chair,” she explained. “It’s a long time to wait and look at your mother on the floor.”
The ambulance crew arrived at the house at 10.30 p.m., two and a half hours after the initial call for help.
“It was just a relief that they had come. They are just absolutely one of the best services when you get them,” said the woman. “The man was so good to her. He was so compassionate and so nice because she is an extremely nervous patient. When she got to Wexford General, she was seen straight away.”
The injured woman was taken to hospital and treated for two cuts on her arm and knee. While her daughter is extremely grateful for the support that was received, she expressed her concern about the long wait, saying that her mother was fortunate to not have received any serious injuries.
“The system is probably working alright in some respects, but it is that time lag that is the issue,” she said. “I have three children and I’m now wondering, if anything happened to them, will I have to wait that long. If anything happened to mum, will I be waiting for over two hours again?”
“I think that’s the service you have to get right. You don’t call an ambulance on a whim. It’s a basic one you call on in emergencies.”