The Southland Times
Wait of close to six hours for ambulance
Nearly six hours after an ambulance was called for a suspected Tokoroa stroke victim, she sat shivering in the cold, wondering if help would ever arrive.
Denise Capper, 64, said a wait for five hours and 40 minutes on July 2 was unacceptable.
‘‘A few weeks ago I had a minor stroke, I was taken to hospital in an ambulance, so they know my medical background, yet I had to wait from around 1pm until after 6pm,’’ she told Stuff. ‘‘I couldn’t move . . . I didn’t know what to do.’’
Capper – who also suffers from epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, and spinal issues which impact her balance – was deemed to be in a non-lifethreatening situation and was bumped down the priority list.
Ambulances within the wider Puta¯ruru, Matamata, Morrinsville and Cambridge areas, which are called upon when needed, were committed to other incidents at the time.
Fighting back tears, Capper said her situation – that a doctor later suspected may have been a stroke – should have been treated more seriously.
‘‘I yelled out to my husband, he was in bed because he’d been working, but he couldn’t hear me because his hearing aids were off. My neighbour at the back heard me though and called up the ambulance straight away only to be told they were busy,’’ she said.
St John north Waikato territory manager Craig Scott apologised for the delay. In spite of the July 2 incident, he said patient welfare was taken seriously.
‘‘Based on the information we had the incident was categorised as not immediately life-threatening,’’ Scott said. ‘‘An ambulance was dispatched from Matamata at 1.34pm and was en route when it was diverted to a life-threatening, time-critical incident.
‘‘St John Ambulance communications centre call handlers made six welfare calls throughout the afternoon to check on the patient’s condition until an ambulance was available.’’