Free State dept probing 2 hour wait for ambulance

Bloemfontein - The Free State Department of Health is investigating allegations that a critically injured man waited over two hours for an ambulance.

On Sunday, an off-duty paramedic came across an accident just minutes after an elderly cyclist was hit by an SUV on the N3 near the R34 Bridge in Vrede.

The medic alleges the bloodied body of the cyclist lay in the middle of the freeway for nearly two hours before the first ambulance arrived.

The incident comes on the back of allegations of poor quality of care at state hospitals in the province.

The paramedic, who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity, made a detailed log of his frantic calls for help.

“When I got there he had just been hit while riding his bicycle. He had sustained a range of injuries including broken bones, as well as head, chest and abdominal trauma,” he said. Off-duty and without life-saving medical equipment, the medic called for help.

“I made the first call to the state ambulance department at 18:35 and it was nearly an hour before anyone arrived. I didn’t want to move the patient but we were losing light and with all of us in the middle of the road I made the call to move him,” he added.

After a traffic official and two response units from the N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) arrived, the first ambulance stopped at the roadside.

“By then I was desperate. I had used the little medical equipment the N3TC units had with them but the ambulance had no stock on it. They didn’t even have a bag and the shelves were bare.”

Two more ambulances arrived, and the critically wounded cyclist, who has yet to be identified, was rushed to the Phumelela Government Hospital.

Department spokesperson Mondli Mvambi would only say that the incident would be investigated.

The fate of the injured cyclist remains unknown.
The timeline of events is as follows:

17:15: The medic arrives at the scene and calls for an ambulance.

18:28: With no first responders on scene and without medical equipment, he makes the judgement that with the fading light, it was unsafe to stay on the road and the patient was shifted to the roadside.

18:35: A Free State traffic department officer arrives at the scene.

18:50: The first N3TC response vehicle arrives. The medical equipment on board the vehicle was limited to bandages.

19:00: The second N3TC response vehicle arrives. This vehicle also had limited medical stock, however, some equipment was used to treat the injured man.

19:45: The first Free State health department ambulance arrives at the scene. The medic alleges that this ambulance had a scant supply of medical equipment. The second ambulance arrived shortly thereafter.

20:00: When a third department vehicle arrives at the scene, the critically injured cyclist is rushed to hospital.


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