Published: 06:00, 17 July 2021
Paramedics waited 30 minutes for park gates to be unlocked before they could move a patient into an air ambulance, it has been revealed.
Emergency services were called to a private address in Herne Bay following a medical incident.
A helicopter landed in Memorial Park at 8.15pm on the day of the emergency - but it was unable to transport the woman to a London hospital until 9.25pm as ambulance crews waited for a key.
The delay has prompted urgent talks between Canterbury City Council, which manages the park, and health bosses to ensure the issue does not happen again.
An eyewitness told KentOnline: “A paramedic said they didn’t have keys, so they couldn’t get in.
“There were two ambulances and they were almost circling the park to see if there was another way to get to the helicopter.
“I was frustrated for them because they were trying to do their job.
“There was a patient who needed to get to hospital and it wasn’t happening as quickly as they liked.
“They were waiting there for about 30 minutes.
“That sort of time is paramount to someone’s life.”
Wooden barriers erected around the outskirts of the field on which the chopper landed also stood in the way of the ambulances.
City council spokesman Rob Davies confirmed the authority’s control room was called that evening, on Tuesday, July 6, before the gate was opened “between 20 and 30 minutes later”.
“This case uncovered the potential for there to be an issue should a land ambulance need to get access to the park..."
“Protecting the Memorial Park at night by locking the gates to prevent vehicle access is important, but it had an unintended consequence last week when the air ambulance landed to help a local resident,” Mr Davies said.
“We send our best wishes to the person who the paramedics were there to help.
“This case uncovered the potential for there to be an issue should a land ambulance need to get access to the park.
“We are looking urgently at options with the local emergency services to prevent this from being a problem in future.”
A South East Coast Ambulance service spokesman says councils are encouraged to use key-code locks – the combinations for which can be passed to crews when needed - at the entrances to gated areas.
He added: “We work with local authorities across our region to maintain access to gated areas.
“Decisions made regarding the transport and management of patients at the scene of an incident are made in their best clinical interests. This could involve transporting a patient to hospital by road if appropriate.”