Sea Point residents point fingers at ‘slow’ emergency service

Sea Point residents say they are concerned that the slow response time by emergency services on Wednesday November 30 led to a death that could have been prevented.

In a letter to the Atlantic Sun, Sea Point building manager Andrew Newall, said: “I was in the lobby of the block of flats I stay in when a very distressed owner asked me to wait for an ambulance which was on its way. Her son who had a brain operation and was recovering at home was unconscious. Her other son was giving him cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). I waited about 20 minutes when she came back downstairs and said that 90111 ambulance was now not coming as they had none available.”

He said that a an ambulance eventually arrived at about 7.50pm but by then it was too late. “I went upstairs to see her and she said that her son had sadly passed away. The ambulance arrived about 40 minutes later. What a sorry state of affairs we are now in.”

Babs Pruter, whose 56-year-old son passed away, said it was a horrific incident for the family to deal with.

Ms Pruter, who asked for her son not to be named, said he had just returned home after being diagnosed with a brain haemorrhage. He was treated in hospital before being discharged. “They said he was stable so he came home but he had trouble breathing.”

Ms Pruter said she phoned the emergency number several times. “My other son was with us and tried to give him CPR. I asked the ambulance to bring oxygen.” Ms Pruter said they were still trying to ascertain why it took so long for the ambulance to arrive at the Beach Road flats.

Robert Daniels, spokesperson for Western Cape Health Emergency Services, said: “Any loss of life is considered a tragedy by any emergency medical service and on behalf of Emergency Medical Services and the Western Cape Government Health we want to convey our sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased.

“The date of the incident in question was Wednesday November 30. Apologies for the delay, but it took us a considerable amount of time to locate the correct incident due to the lack of detail in the initial query as well as the incorrect date of incident provided. Western Cape Government Health Emergency Medical Services dispatched an emergency vehicle to this incident at 7.28pm . It was not logged as a priority one call because the incident was initially registered with ER24. EMS arrived on the scene at 7.43pm and another EMS resource was dispatched at 8pm to certify the patient as deceased. The initial call also indicated that the patient was unresponsive.”

Mr Daniels added that duplicating calls between emergency services unfortunately causes a great amount of confusion.