A MAN who collapsed unconscious at a Sunderland swimming pool had to wait 45 minutes for an ambulance after a 999 call was made.
The 68-year-old was at the Silksworth Community Pool when the incident took place during the busy family fun swimming session.
Shocked employees and other swimmers rushed to help save him.
An emergency call was placed to the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) at 12.47pm, but it wasn’t until 1.33pm that a team of paramedics arrived at the centre.
By then it is reported the whole pool had been cleared of people and staff at the centre were administering first aid.
A spokesman for the NEAS said that the vehicle had been dispatched from Monkton, near Jarrow, about nine miles away.
The incident, which happened on May 19, was only reported after an employee of NEAS contacted the Echo to express concerns about the service as a whole.
He said: “I have worked for the service for more than 20 years and I have never seen it in such a shambles as it is now.
“This is just one of many potential tragedies that may happen again.”
“At the swimming pool a man had to fight for his life for an hour because they could not get an ambulance there.
“The number of vehicles has been reduced and the service is stretched to the limit. There is also a review currently going on which could cut back even more ambulances
“We have crews regularly having to travel from Newcastle to Sunderland for emergencies and they are really struggling.”
When asked about the delay the NEAS said that the incident had not been classed as urgent and that would normally expect to have been there within 30 minutes.
They also said a number of ambulances were occupied elsewhere dealing with more serious cases.
Public sector union Unison are currently in discussion with the NEAS over the recent service review and meetings are scheduled to take place this month with their members.
A spokesman for Unison said discussions were progressing well.