‘To hell and back’

A young GAA player went through “hell and back” after an ambulance fiasco delayed his treatment for a broken leg by seven hours.

Carlow’s Shane Webb fractured his leg in two places during Wednesday’s Leinster MFC clash with Westmeath at Dr Cullen Park.

At 8.05pm, Carlow GAA’s Dr Tom Foley called for an ambulance and removed the footballer from the pitch to the ground’s medical room.

However, with no ambulances available in Carlow, a unit was sent from Portlaoise — which took almost an hour. He was taken to St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny where he was assessed and X-rayed, but because of the nature of the break, his family was told he would have to be transferred to Waterford.

A second ambulance was called and was dispatched from Dublin — at least one hour away. But on the way to Kilkenny, it was diverted to Naas because of an emergency cardiac arrest call.

A third ambulance was called. Amazingly, this time it was dispatched from Carlow — where the incident first took place. The footballer was finally transferred from Kilkenny to Waterford — where he arrived for treatment at 3am — seven hours later.

He was finally operated on at 2.30pm yesterday and is making a recovery. However, his family said they were shocked at the way he was treated and want to ensure it can never happen again. “They brought him on to St Luke’s in Kilkenny where he was assessed and told they were transferring him to Waterford,” said his uncle, Independent councillor Walter Lacey.

“His family were told there was an ambulance coming from Dublin to take him there. But that ambulance got diverted because there was a cardiac arrest case in Naas. We’ve no difficulty with that because he was in St Luke’s at that stage. But then they found they were able to send an ambulance from Carlow to Waterford. Why didn’t they do that in the first place?”

Mr Lacey called on the HSE to review its procedures which he claimed had the potential to lead to dire consequences.

“Shane has been through hell and back; he’s fine now but it shouldn’t happen again. I’m concerned about the level of ambulance cover the people of Carlow have.

“Have they [HSE] done a risk assessment on it based on this new strategic policy? If Shane’s condition had been a cardiac arrest would the procedure have been different or would he have been left for an hour?

“He finally went into surgery at around 2.30pm. I’ve no issue with care in the hospital but my concern is this strategic response which led to the ambulances being called from Portlaoise and Dublin. If you ring an ambulance it’s the first one that’s available whether it’s Portlaoise, Wexford, or Kilkenny.”

In a statement, the HSE said the region was well served by ambulances. “Two ambulance vehicles and crew are on duty in Carlow, seven days a week from 9am to 12am and at least one overnight.

“Kilkenny is covered by two crews on a seven-day, 24-hour basis. In given circumstances ambulances from adjacent locations, such as Waterford, Clonmel, and Portlaoise for instance, are available to assist with emergency calls in Carlow and Kilkenny.

“An ambulance arrived at the scene in Carlow at 8.47pm. In the meantime, the patient had been receiving attention from a GP and the ambulance services were in liaison with the scene. Upon arrival of the ambulance and following treatment by an advanced paramedic, the patient was transferred for assessment and treatment to the nearest emergency department at St Luke’s General Hospital Carlow/Kilkenny arriving at 9.56pm. It was subsequently confirmed that the patient would be transferred to Waterford Regional Hospital for further necessary treatment and an ambulance was requested at 10.41pm.

“At that time ambulances on duty in the Carlow and Kilkenny areas were engaged in emergencies — including to Dublin hospitals. The patient was subsequently transferred from St Luke’s GH at 1.43am.”

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