It is, as I reflect upon a football accident that took place on Sunday 15th June involving my brother Thomas Corcoran, that I have come to realise the shortcomings of ambulance coverage in Co. Roscommon.
During the championship game at Strokestown GAA grounds between Strokestown and St. Faithleachs at approximately 7.15pm, an awkward tackle resulted in Thomas getting a one way ticket to the OR of Derry hospital.
At the risk of sounding like a “bleeding heart brother”, I wish to preface this letter with the fact I have waited weeks to write it in order to allow any lingering emotions to evaporate and address the issue with a cold pragmatism.
The incident that evening lead myself and a stand full of spectators to the realisation that the administration of Roscommon's ambulance service leaves much to be desired. With-in minutes of the accident, it became obvious Thomas had endured a serious injury, that was subsequently diagnosed as a dislocated jaw with a compound fracture protruding through the inner-gum.
At approximately 7.20pm an ambulance was called as he began to spit out blood and he discovered he could not talk. The person who called for an ambulance was told it would be twenty minutes. It was not twenty minutes, it was not thirty minutes, it was not an hour... The ambulance did not arrive till almost 8.30pm. An hour and ten minutes after it was called. To make matters worse, every time the dispatcher was called for an update on arrival callers were assured it would arrive in a matter of minutes.
So we have a young man who cannot speak, is loosing copious amounts of blood from his mouth, has obviously suffered a severe head injury and why did it take so long for the ambulance to arrive? According to the responding crew they came on duty at 8pm and it was then they were informed of the accident. So it was not their fault and I commend them for their honesty and service. A member of the crew informed by-standers it was not the first time something like this had happened. I can only specualte that this is a “funding” issue. One that is putting patient safety at risk.
Thomas' injuries were not life threatening but how long until there is an accident that is. It was nearly two and a half hours from the time an ambulance was called until he saw the inside of Sligo hospital. Regardless of the circumstances, in 2014 Ireland, that is completely unacceptable. We are reassured on an on going basis that we are one the most well serviced counties in Ireland, if that's the case I would certainly not like to see the others.
A member of the ambulance service asked me to report this incident to the HSE as they are concerned this practice of delaying calls will continue and patient safety will continue to be put at risk if it goes unchallenged. I believe engaging with the HSE on this issue would be moot as it will likely get swept under the proverbial rug. Instead I want this debate to have it's day in the court of public opinion, for all to see.
How do the public find the defendant?
"If you're willing to keep moving forward, eventually you will succeed."
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