More fallout from the closure of emergency services at Caboolture hospital
A fire crew was dispatched to give urgent first aid to a Bribie Island man who had a heart attack because ambulances were busy transporting patients away from the troubled Caboolture Hospital. Fire officers gave oxygen for almost 1 1/2 hours to retired NSW police officer John Kenny, 57, until an ambulance was available. As well as having to wait for an ambulance, Mr Kenny was diverted away from Caboolture Hospital's emergency department which normally would have treated heart attack victims in the area.
A Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman last night confirmed a fire truck had been sent to Mr Kenny because it was "an unusually busy night". He denied ambulance crews had been busy diverting patients from the Caboolture Hospital. "Every available crew in the area were on a code-one emergency response," he said. "It was just an unusually busy period at that stage. "We responded with a firefighting crew who all have advance first-aid and lifesaving equipment on their trucks. "While it doesn't happen very often, we do have a standing agreement with the fire service to do this sort of thing. They are a great back-up. It is better having someone with advanced first-aid and life-saving equipment than no one at all." The spokesman said that at all times ambulance officers were in contact with Mr Kenny and the fire officers treating him.
Mr Kenny said he telephoned for the ambulance at 3am on Saturday and was shocked 10 minutes later to hear a fire engine siren outside and four fire officers walking into his home. "They put me on some oxygen and said there were no ambulances available," Mr Kenny said last night. "I didn't believe it. I thought someone was playing a bad joke on me. It took an ambulance an hour and a half to get there. "In the end an ambulance came from Caboolture station. They said they were spending all their time running people around the place because there is no Caboolture Hospital."
Mr Kenny has been in Brisbane's Prince Charles Hospital waiting for an angiogram since Saturday morning. He said the person he was sharing his room with had been waiting for most of that time for a 10-minute stress test which he was unlikely to get before Friday. "I moved here seven years ago and I remember (Premier) Peter Beattie saying we've got the best hospital system in the world. It's world-class," Mr Kenny said. "It might have been then, but, by God, it's not now. "You can give the firies and the ambos a real wrap. But you can give the people running the place -- the State Government -- the thumbs-down."
A spokeswoman for Mr Beattie said last night the Premier was unable to comment until he had been briefed on the circumstances. Opposition health spokesman Bruce Flegg said the incident showed other emergency services were being drawn into the problems confronting the state's public health system. "Heart attack carries with it a very high risk of sudden death," Dr Flegg said. "Failing to dispatch the properly equipped ambulance and paramedics increases the risk the patient will not survive." He said the failure to send an ambulance was compounded by the fact that the nearest hospital, Caboolture, was not taking patients such as Mr Kenny.
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