Auckland woman waits 5 hours in rain for ambulance after fall

Source: 1News

A woman in "extreme pain" after falling from a skateboard waited nearly five hours for an ambulance in Auckland's Manurewa, a witness says.

The injured person suffered a fractured pelvis after falling while working at an after-school programme on Friday afternoon.

Kids After School owner Carolyn Payne told 1News one of her employees was demonstrating a skateboarding activity in a school playground in Manurewa before falling and injuring herself.

She said those nearby called for an ambulance around 4.10pm, but paramedics didn't arrive until just before 9pm.

As night fell during the nearly five-hour wait, Payne said the injured woman was "in shock" and "in extreme pain".

"She went into shock at some point. And then she got cold, so we were trying to warm her up. I had to sit behind her to create some body heat so she would get warmer," she said.

"In the meantime, it started raining. We had umbrellas and everything all around her."

Payne said passersby weren't able to take the injured woman to the hospital as they wanted to avoid further injuring her.

She said others present eventually had managed to get the woman onto a spare scaffolding platform nearby but ultimately decided against moving her any further.

"We got the platform off the scaffolding - eventually we managed to get her on that and we were going to try and lift her to the back of my car," she said. "But we were worried it could make it worse and we really didn't know what was wrong."

She said 111 dispatchers weren't able to give an estimated time when the injured woman could be seen by ambulance paramedics.

"I told them in a later conversation - 'her breathing's quite shallow, she's diabetic, she's also asthmatic, and she's very pale.'"

Payne said the children present during the fall were shaken by the incident.

READ MORE: Omicron: Ambulance services face 'unprecedented demand'

"Initially they thought her trying to skateboard was a bit of a laugh, but it quickly turned into dismay. And they were quite sad and just wanted to make sure that she was okay," she said.

"They were empathetic, and kept asking questions: 'Is she going to be all right?'"

Payne applauded the efforts of parents and other people who attended to the woman.

"The school staff are amazing - they got blankets, my own staff were great, plus a couple of our parents stayed behind and helped as well… the support from the community was wonderful.

"The support from the ambulance service, however, was not."

Middlemore Hospital.

She said the wait for an ambulance was "absolutely disgusting" and that she was worried about others who might also experience long waits. Though Payne added that the two paramedics who arrived were "amazing" and apologised for the wait.

"They were going to take her to Auckland Hospital, but they had to deviate to Middlemore because she was in so much pain."

The business owner said the injured employee is having surgery done on her fractured pelvis next week.

The report of the long ambulance wait time comes as the health system buckles amid a surge in flu and Covid-19 cases around the country.

Last week, Covid-19 Response Minister Ayesha Verrall said the Government's decision to keep the country at the Orange traffic light level was partly driven by Omicron case numbers "starting to creep up again" with "hospitals under pressure".

In June, a person died after leaving Middlemore Hospital's emergency department because of long waits. The incident sparked an "urgent investigation" which is yet to publicly report back findings.

READ MORE: Investigation findings into Middlemore patient death due this week

1News has approached St John for comment about Friday's incident in Manurewa.

In a media release in June, St John said it had been experiencing "extremely high demand" for ambulance call-outs.

"Callers to our 111 communications centres may experience a delay before their call is answered, and we may not be able to send an ambulance immediately where a problem is non-life-threatening.

"For this reason, we are asking the public to call their GP or Healthline for non-life-threatening problems, and to reserve ambulances for life or limb threatening emergencies.

"Where people do request an ambulance for a non-life-threatening problem, they can expect a call back from a registered nurse or paramedic, who will attempt to provide them the same care and advice that would otherwise be afforded to them if an ambulance crew were to attend the scene."