17-minute wait, despite incident 200m from ambulance station

Problem with the button paramedics must press in the ambulance when they arrive at a call

Wed, Dec 11, 2013, 14:59

An inquest has heard that it took 17 minutes for an ambulance to arrive at the scene of an accident, although the deceased – a 75-year-old pedestrian – had been knocked down 200 metres from an ambulance station.

The inquest into the death of Maureen Kane was told that the HSE had initially said that it took 45 minutes for an ambulance to respond, but later corrected this to 17 minutes after it emerged there was a problem with the button that the paramedics must press in the ambulance when they arrive at a call.

Yesterday at the inquest, paramedic Jackie Connolly said that when she pressed the ‘on scene’ button in the ambulance – which sends a message to the ambulance service that a crew has arrived at its call – that it wasn’t working and “rather than waste time on it,” she instead got out of the ambulance to treat the patient.

Louth county coroner Ronan Maguire yesterday said he had asked the paramedic to give evidence because it had been in the media that there was an alleged delay of 45 minutes.

Ms Connolly said her crew was on duty in the Ardee area when they got the call to attend the accident on Scarlett Street, Drogheda.

When they arrived “I pressed the ‘at scene’ button but it didn’t work or engage,” she told the coroner’s court yesterday (Wednesday). “Rather than waste time on it,” she said she had instead got out of the ambulance to care for the casualty who she could see lying on the ground.

Ms Kane, from Bredin Street, Drogheda, was still alive on arrival at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, she said.

Mr Maguire told the family of the deceased that the HSE had said it took 17 minutes for the ambulance to arrive and this revised an earlier statement of 45 minutes.

In reply to Mr Maguire the paramedic said the accident happened “very close” to the Lourdes hospital. She told him the ambulance station in Drogheda is behind the Cottage Hospital which “is 200 metres from where the accident occurred”.

She said: “We were the closest available ambulance so I suspect the Drogheda ambulances were busy with patients or called on somewhere else in the county.”

The inquest heard Ms Kane was crossing the road when she was struck by a car around 5.20pm on the 16th January 2012; she was pronounced dead in the hospital at 6pm.

The motorist, Helen Segrave, was driving at between 28kph and 34 kph. The court heard Ms Kane was crossing the road, but had not come out from behind a parked car.

The post mortem found Ms Kane died from multiple injuries and tests indicated she had a blood alcohol level of 92 milligrams.

A verdict of accidental death was returned by the jury. Ms Kane’s family did not want to comment afterwards.

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