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April 19, 2013

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Ambulances ran short as boy gravely hurt

EMERGENCY officials confirmed an ambulance shortage that kept a mortally injured three-year-old British boy waiting for help before he died Monday night.

No ambulance was available to take the boy, struck by a heavy partition at the Kervan Orient Express restaurant to a hospital right after his injury, officials confirmed.

After being taken to two hospitals, by a taxi and a private car, there was no ambulance to take the boy to a higher-level hospital better equipped to handle his injuries.

Yesterday, the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission released a statement on its microblog, saying the call center of Shanghai Medical Emergency Center received a man's phone call at 8:01pm on Monday, claiming a child fell and needed an ambulance at a restaurant at 706 Hankou Road.

It was the peak hour for ambulance service and the dispatcher checked all nearby branches of emergency center in downtown, the commission said. All ambulances were busy. The dispatcher told the caller that no ambulance was available at that time.

"The caller said if there is no ambulance, they will stop a police car to transport the patient," the commission said in the statement.

The boy's mother, restaurant manager Sun Ying and the restaurant owner took the boy in a taxi first to Shuguang Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, the nearest one, but the emergency department was closed.

The boy was then taken to Huangpu District Central Hospital. Sun said a nurse there dialed 120 for an ambulance, while doctors tried to save the boy with a shot of adrenaline.

According to the statement, the call center received a call from the Huangpu hospital's emergency department at 8:11pm, saying it received a child with brain injury and brain bleeding and an ambulance was needed to take the patient to a bigger hospital with a pediatric department.

The dispatcher checked, then said no ambulance was available and the patient needed to wait. Then it closely followed the availability of ambulances.

The call center received a call from the emergency department at 8:34pm, saying the child died and there was no need for an ambulance.

Doctor shortage critical

Li Jinglei, in charge of emergency center's ambulance dispatch and call reception, said the ambulance shortage is not because the center does not have enough vehicles but due to a shortage of first aid doctors.

"Every year we have dozens of doctors quit due to the low pay, heavy workload and pressure and a poor career development," he said. "Even though we have been aware of the issue and have started to help raise their income and apply for good career arrangements, it may take years to solve the problem."


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