A Hastings family have spoken of their shock after a dad with a badly-broken leg was left waiting for an ambulance on a beach as light faded and the tide swept in.
Donna Thomas says they called for an ambulance three times but were told on the first two calls the situation was ‘not life threatening’.
She said: “This was a medical emergency. He would have drowned if we hadn’t moved him. They made a traumatic situation far worse.”
The 50-year-old said they were walking on the beach at Pevensey after a family meal for her father’s 70th birthday on Saturday (June 1) when her son Luke, 30, screamed out. The business owner from Ore had been running on the beach with his children when he stepped on what he thought was sand, but was actually a deep hole. She said: “He was in agony, he was wet, he was cold. He was crying out and screaming in pain.”
She said they were instructed by the ambulance service to move Luke to get him in a car and take him to hospital. Staff from The Moorings restaurant came to help as well as a passerby.
First they tried using a chair to move him, then the passerby found a piece of fence to move Luke further up the beach.
Donna said: “I cannot speak highly enough of the staff at The Moorings. They were amazing. They brought out tablecloths to wrap Luke in as he was so cold.
“We would love to find the stranger who helped us too, to say thank you. We didn’t catch his name but he went out of his way to help us. We were in such a panic at the time, we didn’t get to thank him properly.”
After an hour-and-a-half, the ambulance service finally agreed to send an ambulance, but Ms Thomas said once paramedics arrived they had to send for a second ambulance to help, and use their mobile phones for light to see, as the sun had gone down.
Luke was eventually taken to Conquest Hospital in Hastings. He underwent one operation on Sunday and was due to have another one during the week, but doctors were unable to operate due to the swelling.
Donna said: “They said his leg will never be the same. We don’t know if we made it worse because we were advised to move him.
“As a family we feel awful, to think we could have made it worse by moving him. But the tide was coming in, he would have drowned if we’d left him. It made an already traumatic situation even worse.”
SECAmb said:“We take all concerns raised seriously and appreciate this patient would have been in considerable pain. All our calls are triaged in order to prioritise the response of our finite resources to immediately life-threatening calls. We wish the patient a good recovery and would invite him or Ms Thomas to contact us directly so we can look into these concerns in more detail.”
Do you know the passerby who helped the family? Call 01424 854242 if you do.