A RUGBY player lay in agony with a neck injury for almost two hours waiting for an ambulance.
Peterlee Pumas forward Luke Leyland was diagnosed with a dislocated vertebrae after being hurt five minutes into the second half of a Northern Conference League match against Coventry Bears.
The accident happened at Peterlee’s Helford Road playing fields at around 3.20pm on Saturday. But an ambulance did not arrive until 5.16pm, with ambulance chiefs saying more “serious” patients took priority.
Pumas bosses say they will be writing to the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).
Luke, 26, originally from Derby, but now studying at Teesside University to be a radiographer, was put on a spinal board provided by a Peterlee fire crew that had been sent to a false alarm at nearby Helford Road Pavilion.
When the ambulance finally arrived, Luke was taken to the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton.
He was sent home on Saturday night with a neck collar. He said: “I think the wait time is disgraceful. For the first hour or so I was quite worried. The pain was agonising, but as time went on I got a bit colder and got a bit numb, so the pain started to die off.”
Pumas treasurer Rob Laverick said: “I’m going to be writing a strongly-worded letter to the ambulance service – two hours for a guy to be laying on a field with a neck injury is ridiculous.”
An ambulance service spokeswoman said the initial call was received at 3.26pm, and added: “Ambulances are despatched on a priority basis, with potential life-threatening calls – known as reds – always coming first.
“During the triaging process, it was established that this was not a red emergency, and was, therefore, classed as a green.
“At the time, we were experiencing a high volume of red calls, which included cardiac arrests and serious trauma.
“A crew was about to arrive at the scene of the rugby incident at 4.22pm, but came across a three-vehicle road traffic accident en-route, with people trapped inside their vehicles.
“This incident was classified as red.”
“NEAS currently has the best response times in England and Wales for reaching emergency patients in eight minutes or less, and receives 1,200 999 calls per day.”