82-year-old waits two hours for ambulance on freezing road after falling and breaking his pelvis
PUBLISHED: 08:00 18 January 2017
An 82-year-old man was left lying in the road with a broken pelvis for two hours in the dark while he waited for an ambulance - and could have died, were it not for his friends keeping him warm in plummeting temperatures.
Reg Nurse tripped and fell while walking out of a house in Coulson Drive, Worle, and his friends immediately wrapped him in blankets and sleeping bags after calling 999 for an ambulance.
But as their wait approached two hours and Mr Nurse remained lying in the street in pain, they made a decision to move him into a garage as temperatures dropped below zero degrees Celsius. A paramedic told them their actions in keeping him warm may have saved his life.
South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) said it was sorry to learn about the incident, and blamed the delays on several other ‘time-critical’ emergency calls in Weston-super-Mare at the same time.
It also pointed to rising public demand and expectations, finite resources and investment challenges within the ambulance service.
Mr Nurse’s friend of 20 years, Kevin Thomas, who helped him on the night, said: “There is no excuse for an 82-year-old being left in the road. If he was left any longer, he could have got pneumonia and died.”
Mr Nurse, who fell at 5.40pm on January 2, had been visiting friends when he tripped while using his walking frame.
He lay in pain in the road, wrapped in blankets, for an hour and 40 minutes before his friends opted to move him.
Carol Roynon, Mr Thomas’ sister, said: “They say you shouldn’t move someone but it was getting below zero degrees. He is 82 and was lying on a cold floor.
“At one point, we got fresh blankets from off the radiator because the ones around him were absolutely freezing.
“We could hear ambulances, but they weren’t coming to us. The paramedic said we saved his life.”
Mr Thomas said Mr Nurse had remained ‘in good spirits’ throughout his ordeal, but deteriorated rapidly once he was put inside the ambulance.
A spokesman for the ambulance service said it is still investigating a complaint into the incident, and added: “We are sorry to learn of this patient’s experience.
“Between the time the initial call was made and when the ambulance arrived, there were several time-critical life-threatening emergency calls in Weston and we need to prioritise patients who are unconscious and not breathing.
“As there are only a finite number of resources with which to respond to incidents, there are occasions when people wait longer for an ambulance than we would like and this is an example where this has happened.
“In the face of rising public demand and expectations, a finite resource and the challenges of investment in the ambulance service, SWASFT is taking part in the national NHS ambulance response programme which aims to improve response times to critically ill patients and make sure the most appropriate response is provided for each patient first time.”