A man suffering from chest pains after a car accident was left waiting for hospital treatment — after his ambulance stopped to top up on fuel.
John Corey was told by a paramedic that he needed to get to hospital as quickly as possible — but it was three hours after the crash before he reached medics.
The accident took place near Aughnacloy in Co Tyrone, but a shortage of cover meant an ambulance had to be sent from Armagh, some 20 miles away.
After collecting Mr Corey the vehicle then had to make a detour to a filling station because it had run out of diesel.
Mr Corey, from Bracken Court in Coalisland, said he was left shocked and frightened by the incident, and has hit out at the lack of ambulance cover in the Tyrone area.
“If it had been more serious I could have been dead,” he said.
“I was in shock and my heart rate was high. It could have been critical.
“The facility should be there to get people to the hospital as quickly as possible.”
The accident happened as Mr Corey was coming out of Aughnacloy. He lost control of his vehicle and crashed into an electricity pole.
Although a rapid response paramedic was quickly on the scene, the 59-year-old was told he had an increased heartbeat and needed to get to hospital fast. Yet it was three hours after the crash before he arrived at Craigavon Area Hospital. The hold-up was caused by a delay in the ambulance arriving and a detour to a Dungannon filling station.
“They hadn’t enough diesel to take the ambulance to Craigavon hospital so they had to stop in Dungannon,” said Mr Corey.
“Whoever was on earlier had left the ambulance almost empty.
“The procedure should be that the ambulance is full for the next shift — the last thing you want is an ambulance having to stop for diesel.”
Mr Corey believes more should be done to improve ambulance cover in rural areas.
“A paramedic was on the scene quite quickly but he was limited in what he could do,” he said. “The ambulance cover just isn’t good enough.”
A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) confirmed that a rapid response paramedic was despatched to the scene immediately and arrived at 6.50pm.
“The patient was assessed and treated at the scene and the paramedic remained with him pending the arrival of an ambulance to transport him to hospital.
“NIAS has, on being made aware of this incident, commenced an investigation into the reasons for the unacceptable delay in this second vehicle being despatched and needing to stop for fuel en route to the hospital.”
The spokesman added the NIAS “remains committed to providing the highest quality of service, which incorporates response times, to all those who have need of our service”.