Ambulance breaks down while carrying heart attack patient

Journey from Dundalk to Drogheda took an hour and three minutes

 The NAS confirmed that at 12.32am a warning light activated on the dashboard and the crew requested another ambulance to bring the patient to hospital. Photograph: Alan Betson

The NAS confirmed that at 12.32am a warning light activated on the dashboard and the crew requested another ambulance to bring the patient to hospital. Photograph: Alan Betson

Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 01:00

The family of a heart attack patient whose ambulance broke down on the way to hospital, has said they “would have been better off getting a lift”.

Jenny Duffy says it took more than an hour for her mother to get to hospital; a journey that according to Google Maps should take a car about 25 minutes.

Her mother Roseanne, who is in her sixties, is recovering in the coronary care unit of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda after having a cardiac arrest on Saturday night.

Ms Duffy said her mother became ill just after 11.20pm and her sister, Charlene, rang for an ambulance.

One arrived within minutes and it was decided to bring her to the Drogheda hospital. Ms Duffy believes the ambulance left just before midnight but the National Ambulance Service (NAS) says it was 12.07am.

“45 minutes later I texted my sister Charlene, who travelled in the ambulance with her, thinking they would be in the hospital and my sister said they had broken down.”

The NAS confirmed that at 12.32am a warning light activated on the dashboard and the crew requested another ambulance to bring the patient to hospital.

Engine failure

The vehicle was pulled over. Ms Duffy said her family believed the engine had failed.

She said her mother was on oxygen, as she also has the respiratory complaint emphysema, and even thought it was foggy out, the crew had to open the back doors of the ambulance because of the breakdown.

“The crew were on the scene straight away when mum needed them but they are paramedics, they are not mechanics and this was engine failure. The crew did their bit but my sister texted me at 1.18am to say they had arrived at the hospital.”

The statement from the ambulance service says the replacement ambulance arrived at 12.55am, “left the scene with the patient at 1.02am and arrived at the hospital at 1.10am.”

This means their journey from Dundalk to Drogheda took an hour and three minutes.

“If mum had another heart attack while waiting at the side of the road she could have died. They would have been better off getting a lift from Dundalk, there were four cars [at the house],” Ms Duffy added.

Filled with smoke

Meanwhile, paramedic sources say another vehicle is off the road in Louth after it filled with smoke on Saturday.

There was no patient on board but the crew pulled over after smoke filled the front of the vehicle. The NAS confirmed that this ambulance had a mechanical problem. It said both ambulances involved in the incidents are out of service.

“However NAS can confirm that the capacity to respond to emergency calls has not been compromised as a result, as other vehicles are available to cover.”