90-minute wait for ambulance

Ambulance anger: Glenn Gardner, with his father Cyril, next to the car his aunt,  Marjorie Shaw, 92, was getting into when she fell, before waiting 1 hour 37 minutes for paramedics to arrive. Picture: Lisa McMahon
Ambulance anger: Glenn Gardner, with his father Cyril, next to the car his aunt, Marjorie Shaw, 92, was getting into when she fell, before waiting 1 hour 37 minutes for paramedics to arrive. Picture: Lisa McMahon

A WOMAN, 92, who fell and fractured her hip, lay in pain and shock in the yard of a Jannali home for more than 1½ hours because no ambulance was available.

Paramedics finally reached Marjorie Shaw one hour and 37 minutes after her nephew, Glenn Gardner, first phoned for help.

During the wait, Mr Gardner's father Cyril, 90, who is Mrs Shaw's brother, sheltered her from the sun with a golf umbrella.

Recovering: Marjorie Shaw at Christmas lunch last year.

Recovering: Marjorie Shaw at Christmas lunch last year.

Mrs Shaw is recovering in Sutherland Hospital after undergoing a hip replacement.

A NSW Ambulance Service spokesman blamed "an extremely busy time" and said a senior officer had apologised to Mrs Shaw.

Mr Gardner said there was "no excuse" for such a long delay.

"While travelling the world, I needed to send for ambulances in Nepal and Bali and waited no longer than 30 minutes," he said.

Mr Gardner said Mrs Shaw, who lived at Riverwood, was staying with him and his father at their Honeysuckle Street home and was about to go to an appointment with her GP when she was hurt.

"For her age, she is normally quite good on her feet, although she uses a stick," he said. "As she was getting into the car she fell backwards and, in trying to correct her position, rolled about four metres down a slight incline, ending up with half of her body on concrete and the other part on grass."

Mr Gardner, who is a volunteer at Sutherland Hospital's community health service, Combined Caring, said although Mrs Shaw was in pain, he knew he could not move her.

"If it's a fractured hip, you can do more damage," he said.

"I had to leave her while I went inside to call an ambulance.

"They asked me if she was conscious and I said, 'Yes, but in shock' ".

Mr Gardner said that about 20 minutes later he received a call to say ambulances were delayed offloading patients at Sutherland Hospital and they would send the next available crew.

"After waiting another hour, I called them again and said, 'This is absurd, what's going on?'

"They said there was an ambulance on the Princes Highway and it should be there soon."

NON-URGENT CASE

The Ambulance Service of NSW said in a statement the duty operations manager for the area ‘‘attended the scene and apologised to the patient for the delay’’.

‘‘NSW Ambulance received a triple-0 call for assistance at 9.50am to an elderly lady who had fallen,’’ the statement said.

‘‘Based on the information provided, the call was triaged as non-urgent, requiring an ambulance response within 30 minutes.

‘‘This was an extremely busy time for NSW Ambulance and at 10.08am the patient was called back to advise that there would be a delay.

‘‘An emergency ambulance was assigned to attend at 10.28am, but called off on-route to attend a higher-priority patient suffering a life-threatening illness.

‘‘The next available emergency ambulance was assigned and arrived on scene at 11.27am.

‘‘The patient was treated by paramedics and transported to hospital.’’

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