The grieving family of a man who died after waiting 10 hours for an ambulance has slammed the SA government’s response to the ramping crisis, saying “people are dying on your watch”.
- Eddie, 54, died on December 27, while waiting for an ambulance
- His family say they found out about the circumstances of his death through media coverage
- They have called on the state government to fix the ongoing ramping crisis
Hectorville man Eddie, who was living in disability care, died after waiting 10 hours for an ambulance to arrive.
Three triple-0 calls were made from the 54-year-old’s home on December 27, when there was “significant” ramping across all Adelaide metropolitan hospitals.
Eddie’s aunty and uncle addressed the media for the first time since his death and described him as a “gentle giant”.
“He was extremely sick throughout his life, he needed help, and he didn’t receive the help he deserved,” Uncle Steve said.
“Eddie was a gentle giant … he was a lovely lad,” Aunty Brenda said.
They said they were not aware of the ambulance delay until they saw media reports about his death on the news.
‘People are dying on your watch’
Eddie made a triple-0 call for abdominal pain and vomiting, and was initially triaged as an “Urgent Priority 5” case, requiring an ambulance to attend within an hour.
Paramedics made three calls to Eddie, and on the third call he was upgraded to “Priority 1”.
An ambulance arrived in four minutes, but it was too late.
The couple slammed Premier Peter Malinauskas for not “fixing the ramping crisis”.
“People are dying on your watch,” Aunty Brenda said.
“Wake up Mr Malinauskas, this is your fault, your problem and the buck stops with you.
“You promised South Australia that you were going to fix the ramping, you’ve failed.
“Eddie is another statistic … we don’t want another family to go through what we’ve gone through.”
In a statement, a state government spokesperson said that their thoughts were with Eddie’s family at this time.
“Senior SA Ambulance staff spoke with Eddie’s mother over the phone on Monday and offered her an in-person meeting with the reviewers of Eddie’s case, including SA Ambulance’s Chief Medical Adviser Dr Amy Keir,” the spokesperson said.
“SAAS is following up again with Eddie’s mother today to try and confirm a time for this meeting.
“The reviewers will make themselves available to speak with Eddie’s aunt and uncle.”
Opposition Leader David Speirs said the government needed to “knuckle down and fix the problem”.
“We are starting to see the real-life consequences of this, the people that are impacted,” he said.
“People like Steve and Brenda who have lost their beloved nephew.”
Clinical review underway
Last week, South Australia’s Ambulance Employees Association (AEA) industrial officer Josh Karpowicz said 17 ambulance crews were ramped at the Royal Adelaide Hospital on the night of the Eddie’s death.
He said the union had provided details of the case to Professor Bill Griggs and Professor Keith McNeil last week.
They were tasked with a clinical review into allegations Adelaide emergency department staff were being forced to prioritise patients in ambulances over those in waiting rooms because of ramping.
“Patients are neglected in the community if ambulances are ramped and we need to see better processes, policies and procedures for ambulances to be offloaded rapidly into an ED when there is high community demand,” Mr Karpowicz said.
SA Ambulance chief executive Rob Elliott said his service would undertake a review to understand the circumstances of the case.
“On the night we were experiencing extremely high triple-0 demands and there was significant ramping as well which gave us a lot of operational pressure,” Mr Elliott said.
“We had to prioritise the highest priority patients that were our triple-0 calls at the time.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the patients at this time.”