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Dublin: 11 °C Saturday 4 April, 2020

Ambulance took 40 minutes to reach cardiac arrest patient in Kells

The ambulance service said a number of its resources were engaged on other emergency calls at the time.


IT TOOK 40 minutes for an ambulance to reach a cardiac arrest patient in Kells, Co Meath on Sunday morning, it has emerged.

An emergency call was made at 3.09am on Sunday after the 37-year-old mother of four went into cardiac arrest. The National Ambulance Service said that at the time, “a number of NAS resources were engaged on other emergency calls”.

Instructions were given over the phone and gardaí, the on-call doctor and the local fire service were sent to assist. In cardiac arrest cases, it is normal procedure for two ambulances to be dispatched to the call so that one paramedic can drive while two others work on the patient in the back of the vehicle en route to the hospital.

It is understood the nearest available ambulances at the time were in Louth and Westmeath. The NAS confirmed the first ambulance arrived at 3.48am, almost 40 minutes after the initial call was made. The second ambulance arrived one minute later. Despite efforts of emergency workers and the doctor at the scene, the woman passed away.

Meath councillor Wayne Forde, who worked himself as a NAS paramedic for a number of years, said he was “deeply concerned that there was no ambulance available in Meath to attend this patient”.

“It is absolutely shocking that ambulances had to come from Co Louth and Co Westmeath. I am calling for a full investigation by the HSE into this tragedy”.

Hiqa targets dictate there should be a first responder at a cardiac arrest incident within eight minutes and a patient-carrying vehicle at the scene within 19 minutes.  A recent review of the National Ambulance Service found they are only reaching life-threatening cases within targets 26% of the time.

Read: Ambulances are only reaching one in four life-threatening cases on time>

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