Belfast Telegraph

Fooblall club's fury at wait for ambulance after player hurt in game

By Nevin Farrell

A furious football club chief has slammed the length of time it took an ambulance to arrive and ferry a player with serious head injuries to hospital.

"God forbid, the young fella could have died," said Archie Smyth, chairman of Larne FC, after Scott Irvine (30) lay badly hurt in cold, blustery conditions for 40 minutes awaiting the emergency vehicle.

The midfielder collided head-first with a pitch-side wall at the club's Inver Park ground during Saturday's Irish Cup tie with Carrick Rangers.

Although an initial rapid response ambulance car arrived quickly, Mr Smyth is demanding answers from health bosses over the delay for the main ambulance to arrive from Whiteabbey.

The rapid response vehicle drove on to the grass to be at the side of the injured player, who was knocked out in the collision.

Mr Smyth praised the actions of Carrick fan Dennis Mulholland, an off-duty paramedic who was in the crowd.

Mr Irvine, a father-of-two, remained in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital last night, where the club said he was conscious and recovering from face and head fractures.

Mr Smyth added: "I felt sorry for Scott and his dad Tommy. The injured player had to lie there for 40 minutes - it was a disgrace. Somebody, somewhere has got to do something about it.

"I am angry that a young man was lying seriously injured at the side of the pitch. I am not blaming the ambulance crew, but the powers-that-be, that an ambulance came from Whiteabbey and it took so long."

An Ambulance Service spokesman said that it received an emergency call at 3.30pm on Saturday following the incident.

"The nearest available response was despatched to the scene and a rapid response paramedic arrived at the scene within three minutes. An A&E crew was also despatched to transport the patient to the hospital, arriving on scene in 21 minutes," he said.

"The conveyancing vehicle was despatched from Whiteabbey station, as the on-duty Larne crew was already involved on another call.

"The patient was treated at the scene for approximately 45 minutes before being taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital."

The club described the player's sliding head-first into the wall as a "freak accident" and said there were no immediate plans to examine the layout of the Inver Park stadium.

However, they have plans to replace their pitch with a 3G artificial surface and, as part of that, the pitch surrounds are expected to be reviewed.

Mr Smyth said the game will now be rescheduled for January 20 with pensioners and children getting in free. There will be a £5 admission fee for adults and all the money raised will go towards helping Mr Irvine.

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