Two friends who tended to an elderly woman after she fell in a road in Hastings were left ‘gobsmacked’ at having to wait three hours for an ambulance.
Dawn Hyland, from St Leonards, said the 86-year-old woman who fell in Trinity Street on Wednesday was ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘frozen to the bone’ by the time professional help arrived.
She said it demonstrated the extreme pressure the ambulance service was under.
Dawn, who is a regional welfare officer for British Gymnastics and a coach at Hollington DMT, said: “We couldn’t believe it was taking so long. We were quite gobsmacked.
“I think at the end of the day, you are looking at the fact that the budgets have been cut and cut and cut.
“It highlights the state of what our ambulance service is becoming, through no fault of their own. It’s just wrong.”
Dawn had been on her way for a coffee at around 10.10am with her friend Dawn White, an early years practitioner from Hastings, when they heard a scream and went running to help.
Finding the woman injured in the road, they performed first aid, called 999 and stood in the road to block oncoming cars.
“We were having to stop the traffic,” Dawn said. “She could’ve been run over.”
The pair waited with the woman and tried to keep her spirits up – but it was two and a half hours until police arrived to block the road and, according to the ambulance service records, almost three hours until an ambulance arrived and took her to Conquest Hospital.
By the time the ambulance arrived, Dawn said: “She was absolutely frozen to the bone. There were people looking over...there was no dignity at all.”
According to the paramedic, the ambulance had been diverted to deal with other, more urgent calls, Dawn said, adding: “We understand that, but there should be enough emergency services to go around.”
The pair praised the shopkeepers on Trinity Street, who brought out cups of tea and blankets to keep the woman warm.
“They were absolutely fantastic,” Dawn said. “That’s the community spirit that’s down there. They really do need a big thank you.”
Later Dawn visited the woman in hospital, bringing her a change of clothes.
A police spokesman confirmed that officers closed access from the A259 to the southern end of Robertson Street at approximately 12.45pm.
A spokesman for the South East Coast Ambulance service said: “I can confirm were called shortly after 10.20am yesterday (22 May) to Trinity Street, Hastings, to reports a woman had suffered a fall.
“The call was categorised as a Category 3 call, which we aim to respond to within two hours.
“We understand that this can feel like a very long time for a call of this nature but we have a duty to manage our resources and prioritise our response to life-threatening emergencies.
“We appreciate that the patient would have been uncomfortable and we do, where possible, look to increase the speed of our response to Category 3 calls of this nature.
“We would also like to thank everyone who helped the woman prior to our arrival.
“According to our records, a paramedic arrived at the scene of the incident just over an hour and a half after the call was made.
“The paramedic requested ambulance back up and this was sent as soon as possible, approximately two hours and 50 minutes after the original call.
“The woman was assessed and treated before being taken to Conquest Hospital for further assessment and treatment. We wish her a good recovery.”
The spokesman added: “We take all concerns raised seriously and we would encourage anyone with any concerns to contact us directly so we can investigate further.”