AMBULANCE response times in Sunderland are above the national average despite criticism that delays are risking lives.
Figures obtained by the Echo reveal last year paramedics in the city reached 76 per cent of 999 calls within eight minutes, above the 75 per cent national guidelines.
While 89 per cent of Wearside calls are met within the set 19-minute response times.
A spokesman for the North East Ambulance Service said: “So far in 2013, our response performance for Red 1 and Red 2 calls is running at 79 per cent.
“This is against a backdrop of heavy demand on the NHS, and includes and exceptionally busy winter.”
The figures are a positive step after criticism earlier this year that average turnaround times for crews going to the city’s Royal Hospital had slowed considerably.
It meant ambulances heading to the royal were missing the national target of 25 minutes from bringing a patient in and then being ready to go on the next call out.
Paramedics were praised on March 10 this year after Houghton dad David Binks staged a miracle recovery after his heart stopped beating for more than 70 minutes.
NEAS paramedics Vicky Adamson, Gail Savage and Karen Millican were on the scene within the space of just four minutes, but initially, David’s prospects didn’t look good.
David’s partner Lynette, 22, had begun CPR as soon as she saw David collapse.
The three NEAS paramedics, and then hospital staff, continued the resuscitation and shocked him 16 times before his heartbeat returned.
But on the same day, the Charlton family were left devastated after an ambulance took more than 30 minutes to respond to their 999 call after dad Kevin fell ill.
Yvonne Charlton first became concerned about Kevin, 44, after he developed breathing problems at the family’s home in Glebe, Washington.
By the time they made the third 999 call, Kevin had stopped breathing. He died in hospital 10 days later. The dad-of-four, who had been married to Yvonne for 27 years, never regained consciousness.
Daughter Carly, 22, said: “I can’t help but think what might have happened had the ambulance arrived earlier.
“We’ve all been left devastated by dad’s death.”