Ambulance service apology after footballer collapses in Co Down

An amateur footballer who collapsed on a Co Down training pitch was eventually driven to hospital when an ambulance failed to arrive after almost an hour.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 8:14 pm
Havelock Park pitches in Banbridge, Co Down

A teammate of the 22-year-old said it was a frightening experience making several 999 calls without seeing any response from the emergency service.

The incident took place at Havelock Park in Banbridge around 8.20pm on Wednesday when the casualty unexpectedly collapsed.

“He fell on the ground and had lost consciousness for a short time,” his teammate said.

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“It was a bit like what happened to Christian Eriksen (who collapsed on the pitch during Denmark’s opening Euro 2020 match against Finland last month).

“We called 999 because he began complaining of chest pain and he was struggling to breathe, but there was no sign of an ambulance after nearly an hour.”

The concerned teammate, who does not wish to be named, said he can’t understand why the emergency controllers don’t advise callers if an ambulance is not going to be available in a potentially life-threatening situation.

“It would have been more sensible if the control central had advised us that it would have been better for us to take him to the hospital ourselves as quickly as possible,” he said.

“In the end his parents arrived and they took him to the hospital.

“I have since found out that the young lad has now been discharged from hospital but is going through tests.”

The NI Ambulance Service (NIAS) has apologise to the footballer who collapsed, and said all of its ambulances were “engaged on other calls at that time”.

An NIAS spokesman said: “The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service received a 999 call at 20:23 requesting an ambulance to attend Havelock Park playing fields in Banbridge where a young male patient was conscious but complaining of pain in his chest.

“NIAS would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the patient for the lack of service provided to him.

“Unfortunately, all ambulances in the area were engaged on other calls at that time. NIAS has advised through media outlets and social media channels that we are operating under extreme pressure at this period and have asked for patience on behalf of those calling.”

The spokesman added: “NIAS operates a clinical triage system to ensure that the most clinically ill or urgent calls receive the most immediate response. We have asked the public to consider alternatives to 999 including own transport to hospital to assist in dealing with the pressures we are currently experiencing.”

Commenting on a separate incident in Newtownabbey on July 16, the NIAS has apologised to an elderly man who was eventually taken to hospital in a private car when it became apparent that no ambulances were available.

This was “due to ongoing pressure on the service” an NIAS spokesman said.

He also said that the NIAS “would wish to offer sincere apologies to both him and his family” both for the lack of emergency ambulance response and “for any distress caused.”