Man in wait for ambulance feared he was going to die
A man suffering from a suspected heart attack waited in pain and distress while an ambulance took almost an hour and a half to travel from Wicklow only to then get lost en route to Wexford General Hospital.
Johnny McManus thought he was going to die as he fainted in and out of consciousness at his home in Bishopwater, suffering from pains in his chest and dizziness.
The 63 years old Wexfordman whose father James died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 64, waited an hour and twenty-five minutes for an ambulance to be diverted from Wicklow as there was no ambulance available in County Wexford at the time.
When the ambulance did eventually arrive, his brother Terence had to get out of the back of the emergency vehicle and get into the front to give directions to the driver who took a wrong turn at the Bishopwater roundabout and ended up in Rathaspeck.
'Terence got into the back of the ambulance with me. We left my house and he happened to look out the window and he asked the paramedic if the driver knew where she was going as we seemed to be travelling in the wrong direction.'
'We were in Rathaspeck and when the paramedic asked her what signs she saw, she said there was a sign for Johnstown Castle. Surely to God they'd have a sat nav'.
'My brother got out of the ambulance and got into the front and showed the driver where to go', said Johnny whose next door neighbour Frances Haughton was advised by the Caredoc service not to transport him to the hospital by car as he could be having a heart attack.
Caredoc summoned an ambulance and a paramedic stayed on the telephone line with Ms. Haughton during the wait for the ambulance.
'I was only partly aware of what was happening as I was fainting in and out and getting cold sweats and then I went into complete shock' said Johnny who has been on medication for the past two years for a clot to a lung.
'I was very scared', he said. 'Heart problems run in the family. My father died of a heart attack here in the same house when he was 64. My brother had a number of heart attacks before he died from cancer and my other brother had a heart attack the year before last'.
'I was sure I was having a heart attack. I had all the symptoms. I thought I was going to die' said Johnny who had nothing but praise for the staff of Wexford General Hospital and for his neighbour Ms. Haughton. 'When I did get there, they were very good. I couldn't fault them', he said
After undergoing tests and being examined by a cardiac consultant, he was told his symptoms were caused by low blood pressure and he was discharged from hospital the next day, with follow-up tests due at the end of the month.
'It was very frightening for me to not be able to get an ambulance, I was very distressed and my brother and my neighbour were very distressed because they thought I was going to die and there was nothing they could do. If I had been suffering from a heart attack, I would have been dead.It's a total disgrace, a scandal'.
Johnny said the ambulance personnel who arrived had been in the process of responding to a call in Wicklow and were re-directed to an 'emergency' in Wexford.
It was the second serious ambulance delay in Wexford in the space of three weeks after an elderly Clonard man suffering from a head injury was left lying on a floor in St. Joseph's Community Centre on December 13 for up to an hour and a half for an ambulance to arrive from Thomastown in County Kilkenny, and tragically died in Wexford General Hospital five days later.
Sinn Fein councillor Thomas Forde said it is clear Wexford people are 'living in a death zone'.
'Incidents such as this show just how important a permanent cath lab is for the south east but also how under-resourced we are here in Wexford', he said.
He described it as a 'disgrace' that anyone in an emergency situation should be forced to wait so long for an ambulance.
'These are life and death situations and it doesn't get any more serious than that'.
'It is bad enough to be forced to wait for an ambulance to travel to Wexford town from Wicklow. But for the ambulance to be directed and to travel in the opposite direction of the hospital, is truly shocking. It puts the patient and the paramedics in a desperate situation'.
'The introduction of Eircodes was supposed to help emergency services to provide a speedy response. But if an ambulance cannot quickly and accurately be routed to a hospital which is only minutes away, serious questions need to be asked and answered', said Cllr. Forde.
'It should be a huge source of shame for our government and the HSE who have the ultimate responsibility for our health service'.
'Dr. Aidan Buckely recently addressed a meeting of Wexford County Council and stated that the service preferred by the HSE relies on a patient suffering a cardiac arrest getting to a cath lab within 88 minutes. Yet when someone's life is hanging in the balance they can be left waiting for 90 minutes just for the ambulance to arrive', said the councillor.