'She almost stopped breathing' - long wait for ambulance in Laois

Lynda Kiernan


Lynda Kiernan

An ambulance

Ambulance sent from Athlone to bring Laois woman to Portlaoise hospital

A Laois woman with health issues who was hurt in a fall at home last week waited almost three hours lying on the floor for an ambulance, despite being 15 miles from Portlaoise hospital.

An ambulance was instead sent from Athlone 50 miles away from her home in Knockaroo.
The woman can only walk short distances and uses a wheelchair. She lives with her brother and their father who is in his 90’s.

Her brother who wished the family not to be named told the Leinster Express what happened on January 4.
“My sister is overweight as a result of limited mobility. Last Saturday afternoon at about 1.50pm she got out of bed and turned to use a handrail but missed it. She came down hard on the floor and got jammed sideways between the bed and the bedside table. We had no hope of getting her up and we didn’t know what harm was done,” he said.

He rang the emergency service at about 1.55pm.
“They told me help was on the way. But they didn’t say it was coming from Athlone,” he said.
“She passed out on us at one stage, her breathing was difficult because she was lying at an awkward angle. I was worried, I was afraid for her life, she almost stopped breathing at one stage,” he said.

He rang back the emergency service to tell them her condition had worsened.
“They told me help was on the way and to reassure the patient. My father went to our neighbour and he came up and saw how she was struggling for air. We thought if we left her she might choke so against medical advice we had to try and move her. We risked hurting her, it was a hard call to make,” he said.

They managed to move his sister to a more comfortable position on the floor with a pillow supporting her head.
He said that at 3.30pm a paramedic arrived in a car, with the ambulance ten minutes later at 3.40pm, two hours and 45 minutes after he rang for it.
“I asked what took them so long and they said they came from Athlone,” he said.

The man was shocked.
“It just doesn’t make sense. I know Portlaoise has ongoing issues but you’d think they have ambulances. It beggars belief. If I want a loaf of bread I go to the local shop not Roscrea. Obviously there’s some logic somewhere but I’m hard pressed to find it,” he said.

His sister was brought to Portlaoise hospital where luckily she was found not to have broken any bones and the family brought her home that night.
“She is bruised and battered, it took a lot out of her. Only for myself and my neighbour moving her, I thought she was going to go on us, I was that scared,” her brother said.