Ambulance delay sparks fury

AN ambulance took twice as long as it should have done to reach a heart attack victim who later died, it was revealed today.

AN ambulance took twice as long as it should have done to reach a heart attack victim who later died, it was revealed today.

The incident took place on Felixstowe seafront - just a few hundred yards from the resort's ambulance station - but it took 17 minutes for paramedics to arrive.

For a life-threatening situation an ambulance should arrive in eight minutes.

Today the mayor of Felixstowe Mike Deacon called for a full investigation into the incident.


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Mr Deacon said it was “totally unacceptable” an ambulance should take so long to reach an incident in a town the size of Felixstowe on a busy sunny Sunday.

The incident happened on Sunday when an elderly man collapsed at the wheel while driving a gold Vauxhall Astra Estate and collided with a parked car at the junction of Sea Road and Platters Road.

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A crew from the East of England Ambulance Trust and police were called at 9.44am but the ambulance did not arrive until 10.01am.

The 75-year-old driver, from Clacton-on-Sea, was unconscious and not breathing.

Despite desperate attempts from a police officer, who was first on the scene and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), as well as the efforts of the ambulance crew when they arrived and staff at Ipswich Hospital, the man was declared dead at about 11am.

It is suspected he suffered a heart attack although the results of a post-mortem examination are not yet known.

Mr Deacon said: “I find it alarming that an ambulance cannot get here quicker than that and will be trying to find out why.

“This was a busy sunny Sunday in Felixstowe and there are always many extra people in the town on fine weekends, which makes it more worrying.”

He was concerned that the Port of Felixstowe ambulance which regularly helps out by attending emergencies in the town had not been used.

Health campaigner Malcolm Minns said: “At first glance this performance is far from adequate bearing in mind this was a Sunday morning in Felixstowe, a coastal resort with a major Sunday market. Seventeen minutes is not good enough and there needs to be an investigation.”

An East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust spokeswoman said every Suffolk ambulance was already on a 999 call when the incident happened.

“It just was an exceptionally busy time. The ambulance had been in Hintlesham previously and it would have been the nearest available resource to go,” she said.

Police have not yet named the driver who died. A spokeswoman said the coroner was still investigating and would decide if an inquest was to be held.

Do you know the man involved and want to pay tribute to him? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Panel:

WHEN Felixstowe's ambulance service faced cuts some years ago, residents were told vehicles would be based in an area near the town - but able to reach it within the required time.

Ambulances would not be sat waiting at the ambulance station in Levington Road because they had to cover a wider area.

One base pinpointed was near the Suffolk Showground - with easy access to the A14.

The Evening Star sent reporter Richard Cornwell to see how long it would take to drive the ten miles from Trinity Park to the scene of the accident.

It took 12 minutes in weekday traffic.

“I drove as close to the speed limit as possible and was fortunate there were no lorries overtaking each other on the A14,” he said.

“Had this been where the ambulance was positioned, I would expect early on a Sunday morning with no trucks, an ambulance with lights and sirens could have done it some minutes faster.”

Panel:

PARAMEDICS in East Anglia are tasked with reaching 75 per cent of life-threatening emergencies in eight minutes.

They have to attend 95 per cent of all other emergencies and urgent calls in 19 minutes.

The East Anglian Ambulance service deals with more than 700,000 calls a year and has been meeting its targets.

In the last year, the service reached 75.1pc of calls in eight minutes and 95.7pc within 19 minutes.

However, the figures were below the national average of reaching 77.1pc of emergency and urgent calls within eight minutes and 97.1pc within 19 minutes.

The service said it is striving to do better but Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire's rural nature had an impact on the time in reaching some situations.

Leader:

IT is quite shocking that a man suffering a heart attack had to wait 17 minutes for an ambulance.

Even with all the county's ambulances already attending emergencies, it shows how are communities are woefully under-covered.

Felixstowe and the Trimleys have a population of 30,000 people, boosted on sunny days by up to 10,000 more people enjoying a trip to the seaside and all its attractions. The town is set to grow by around 7,000 more people in the next 15 years.

Yet the nearest ambulance when a 999 call came in was in Hintlesham, where the crew were already helping at another incident.

As a newspaper The Evening Star has campaigned tirelessly to safeguard our ambulance service - and for improvements to ensure crews are available when needed in all emergencies.

Clearly, there are still problems with the current level of service and one family has the right today to be asking why.

The matter needs a full investigation and a reassurance that action will be taken.

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