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Home   Whitstable   News   Article

Mum Emma Kirwan's fury after daughter Alisha broke arm after falling from play equipment in Swalecliffe and 999 operators failed to answer for minutes

03 August 2014
by Jamie Bullen

A furious mum says she is disgusted after waiting seven minutes to ask for an ambulance after her seven-year-old daughter broke her arm.

Emma Kirwan, of St Augustine’s Crescent, Swalecliffe, was left shaken after her daughter Alisha fell seven feet from play equipment in Plough Lane breaking her arm in two places.

But her worries soon turned to anger after she waited seven minutes to speak to an ambulance operator after dialling 999.

Emma Kirwan is angry that ambulance operators took minutes to answer her 999 call for daughter Alisha

Emma Kirwan is angry that ambulance operators took minutes to answer her 999 call for daughter Alisha

She says she even asked witnesses to speak to paramedics, believing the problem may have been with her phone but they were also forced to wait.

Eventually she was put through and asked a series of questions about Alisha’s condition before being asked to take her to QEQM Hospital as no ambulances were available.

Emma says she understands other emergency calls may have been more serious but is disgusted at the length of time it took to speak to someone.

She said: “I was absolutely disgusted. I was shocked at how long there was no answer.

“I appreciate there may have been other emergencies but they didn’t know who was on the other end of that phone.

“It could have been somebody having a heart attack and seven minutes is a long time to wait. It could have even been life-threatening.


Alisha's arm was broken in two places

Alisha's arm was broken in two places

“Alisha wasn’t screaming but she was moaning in pain and she was feeling dizzy and sick. Her face was changing colour and her eyes were heavy.

“I thought if I called the ambulance they could give her pain relief there and then and support her to go to hospital.”

“It could have been somebody having a heart attack and seven minutes is a long time to wait. It could have even been life-threatening" - Emma Kirwan

Alisha was treated by doctors an hour and a half after the fall last Thursday and was prescribed morphine before having an operation the next day.

She will now wear a cast for eight weeks.

On the way to the hospital she says she called two ambulance drivers to ask if her daughter should have gone by ambulance.

Emma added: “They said they had been busy but because it was a swan-like break an ambulance car should have been sent to us.

“If they said they were busy I could have been on my way but by the time I’d spoken to them it was an hour and a half before we got to hospital.”

Ambulance spokesman Richard Airey said an investigation would be carried out after Ms Kirwan made a formal complaint.

He said: “SECAmb takes any concerns raised about the service it provides extremely seriously.

“All our 999 calls are triaged based on the information provided by the caller and we prioritise life-threatening calls.

“When this call was received we were experiencing very high call volume across our region.

“We appreciate that Ms Kirwan’s daughter will have been in a great deal of pain and that the experience will have been very distressing for both her and her mother but we have to ensure that priority is given to patients in a life-threatening condition.

“We have recently been contacted by Ms Kirwan and we will be looking into the individual circumstances of her call.

“We will contact her directly with our findings as soon as possible.”

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