An injured sportsman had to be transported to Wexford General Hospital in the back of a builder's van after waiting in vain for an ambulance to arrive last weekend.
Former Wexford hurler Riche Kehoe lay in pain on a stretcher on the side of the pitch for over 75 minutes at Taghmon/Camross GAA Club waiting for an ambulance that never showed up.
Instead, the Faythe Harriers captain who sustained a serious knee injury in a tackle in the second half of a senior hurling championship game against St. Martin's on Saturday afternoon, had to be taken to hospital in the back of builder Barry Kinsella's red renault van.
HSE doctor Madeleine Blackwell of Piercestown who was a spectator at the match accompanied him in the rear of the vehicle en route to the hospital after tending to him constantly on the field following the injury, foil-wrapping him and holding a golf umbrella to shade him from the sun.
'She was with him all the time. She came with him to the hospital in the back of the van. It looked serious. He was in a lot of pain', said Barry who is a mentor with St. Mary's of Maudlintown where Richie plays football.
At the WGH entrance, Richie was met by nursing staff and transferred to another stretcher before being carried into the hospital.
After sustaining the injury, he was assessed by Harriers physiotherapist Craig Hore and St. Martin's physio Phillip Jeffares who both advised that he should go to hospital.
Harriers official Willie Murphy rang the ambulance service at 4.22 p.m. and was informed that an ambulance would be dispatched. At 5.30 p.m., there was still no sign of it and a second call was made. Eventually, a decision was taken not to wait any longer and to bring him to hospital in the van.
'When I rang, I don't recall anything being said about a delay. By the time it was decided to take him to hospital, the game was well over, the players had showered and dressed and were back on the pitch again, it was that long', said Willie.
'The ironic thing is that as we were nearing the hospital, we saw an ambulance pulling out and when we arrived, another ambulance drove out', he said. 'There had been talk about an ambulance having to come to Wexford from Carrick-on-Suir', he added.
Harriers secretary Pat Henebry said the injured player went down in the sixth minute of the second half. At least three calls were made to the ambulance service but he was left lying there for up to an hour and a half.
'Imagine if this had been a head injury or a neck injury and he couldn't be moved, what would have happened then. What if it had been someone who had a heart attack. You wouldn't want to be dying', he said.
'This is not a third world country, you expect that when someone is injured, that there will be a response from the ambulance service.'
'If it had been a life-threatening injury, imagine the scenario we could have been facing', said Pat, adding that if an ambulance is not available, a paramedic service should be dispatched. The talented sportsman who has played 84 times with the County Wexford senior hurling team, is awaiting an MRI scan of the injured knee.