A GRIEVING widow today told how her husband’s life “could have been saved” if an ambulance had not taken almost an hour to reach him.
Joan Watt’s husband Dave died after suffering a stroke at Silksworth Community Pool in Sunderland.
Now,his 61-year-old widow has hit out at the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) for failing to reach him in time.
Joan, of Grindon, said: “It was a life-and-death situation and if they had got there faster it could have made a difference. Maybe his life could have been saved.”
Dave, 68, had already suffered a stroke earlier that year.
Joan said: “He had been in hospital since January after having a stroke but had been out for three weeks and had made a really good recovery.
“We had decided to go swimming and had told the lifeguards as we knew them. But he was just by the side when it happened so they had to drag him out.
“It was really horrible because they had to evacuate the whole pool and there were lots of children there.
“The staff phoned the ambulance service five times and kept saying it was an emergency but they didn’t come for 55 minutes.
“It was so traumatic for me as well as the life guards and the people that were standing around.
“The paramedic who arrived said he had only received the call nine minutes before he arrived so I want to know what happened between the first call and then.
“The experience in the pool and his death has caused so much trauma. The hospital was just down the road so we would have taken him ourselves if we could have moved him.
“When you ring 999 you expect someone to come so it’s absolutely shocking and this has just added to the devastation.”
Dave died in hospital 11 days later.
A spokesman for the North East Ambulance Service offered their sincerest condolences and said their records showed it took them 46 minutes to attend.
They also said a serious crash on the A19 at the same time resulted in five ambulances being sent there.
The statement said: “Following a telephone triaging process with clinicians present, the call was classified as a Green 2.
“A Green 2 is an incident where life is not in immediate danger. Our target response time for these types of incidents is 30 minutes.
“At the time of the call from The Puma Centre, we were experiencing a particularly heavy volume of incidents which included four Red 1’s.
“One of the Red 1’s was a serious multiple RTC in Sunderland, which occupied five A & E ambulances, and also our Hazardous Area Response Team.
“Three different vehicles had been assigned to the original call from The Puma Centre during this period – but were diverted to other Red 1’s in the vicinity.
“A paramedic attended The Puma Centre at 13:33pm – 16 minutes outside our target response time. We are sorry that on this occasion we were not able to meet our Green 2 target.”