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January 8, 2014

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Furor over delayed ambulance service

The issue of lack of ambulances in the city was back in the headlines after it came to light that a 59-year-old local man died of brain hemorrhage at home while waiting for 90 minutes for an ambulance.

The incident happened last month and the man’s daughter said yesterday she had written to the mayor and is demanding an apology from the Shanghai Medical Emergency Center for its late service.

The daughter said they made the first call for an ambulance  at about 6:40pm. They were told there were no ambulances available in their area.

She kept calling every three to five minutes but got the same reply. The man vomited twice and then passed out waiting for an ambulance, which arrived only at 8:10pm. The medical staff gave him emergency treatment. But their efforts failed and the man was declared dead at 9:00pm.

Dong Jun from the Shanghai Medical Emergency Center told Shanghai Morning Post that ambulances at the three nearby first-aid stations were all in service when the women called.

An ambulance was only available at 7:58pm. It could only make it at 8:10pm.

The family is blaming the ambulance delay for the death.

Staff at the emergency center said they had suggested to the family to take the man to the hospital themselves since no ambulance was available at that time. But the family said no such advice was given.

According to medical experts, the first six to eight minutes are vital in cases of brain hemorrhage. However, it is impossible for an ambulance to arrive in such a short time.

This is not the first time that the emergency center has been criticized for ambulances arriving late.

An increasing number of the aging population, calls made in non-emergency situations and the lack of beds in emergency room are among the reasons cited for the delayed ambulance services.

However, a shortage of first aid doctors is the main problem, according to the Shanghai Medical Emergency Center. Between 2009 and 2012, the city had recruited 311 ambulance doctors, but 234 quit the job.

Low pay, heavy workload and pressure, and an unpromising career are forcing many first-aid doctors to look elsewhere.

To deal with ambulance shortage, the authorities have planned to divide ambulances into groups with different staff and equipment on board for emergency and non-emergency service.

Ambulances for emergencies will be equipped with advanced pre-hospital diagnosis and treatment machines.



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