'Not life threatening' response to ambulance complaint

AN AMBULANCE service has said a man who was bleeding heavily after a head injury was not in a life threatening condition. In response to a complaint from an Axbridge club, that an ambulance took 80 minutes to reach the injured man, South Western Ambulance

AN AMBULANCE service has said a man who was bleeding heavily after a head injury was not in a life threatening condition.In response to a complaint from an Axbridge club, that an ambulance took 80 minutes to reach the injured man, South Western Ambulance Service said the call was not ranked in its most urgent category.The incident happened at Cheddar Reservoir in Axbridge, when a sailing instructor with the Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club in Cheddar was knocked on the head by a falling mast.Club owner, commodore Paul Hipwell, said the man went into shock and was bleeding heavily, but it took an ambulance nearly an hour-and-a-half to get to the patient and he kept dialling 999 to find why there was a delay.He said: "We were advised that the ambulance service was short of resources and that a vehicle had been dispatched from Glastonbury."Cheddar's co-responder team, based at the fire station in Cheddar, arrived on the scene 20 minutes later, followed by a paramedic, but the man could not be taken to hospital until the ambulance turned up.Mr Hipwell is now demanding answers for the 'unacceptable' response time.He said: "I'm concerned that the failure of the ambulance service is putting the lives of local people at risk."In this incident we had a fortunate outcome in that the patient made a full recovery. My concern is that next time we may not be so lucky. I want to take action now before we have a tragedy in our community." Mr Hipwell wrote a letter to South Western Ambulance Service more than 30 days ago, but has not yet had a response. According to national guidelines set by the Department of Health, 75 per cent of calls deemed as life threatening must be met within eight minutes and 95 per cent of calls categorised as 'not life threatening' must be met within 19 minutes.A spokesman for the service said: "The call was categorised as 'not life threatening'. Therefore, the trust met the 19 minute target to respond, as a first responder arrived on scene in 18 minutes. A second and third resource were also dispatched at 25 and 68 minutes respectively. It is important not to overlook the fact that ambulance trusts nationally are dealing with a consistent rise in the number of calls that they receive."The trust serves almost three million people in the south west, mainly from rural areas, as well as holidaymakers.The trust's chief executive Ken Wenman said: "On behalf of the trust I would like to make an assurance that patients receive extremely high standards of service from South Western Ambulance Service staff.


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