A doctor has filed an official complaint against both the emergency medical coordination service and the Ministry of Health of the Junta de Andalucía, after a delay in an ambulance arriving at the scene of a road traffic incident.

The complaint has been filed with the courts of Fuengirola, with the doctor citing an “excessive and unacceptable” in attending a crash on the A-7 motorway earlier this month.

The doctor was going about his personal business, when he noticed a group of people near several vehicles, and thought that an incident may have taken place to which he could assist.

Always according to the complaint, after asking people who were at the scene, the doctor confirmed that the emergency services had been called and went about assessing the casualty, a motor cyclist, who had suffered multiple trauma and was conscious, breathing and with a pulse, was complaining of severe pain.

After a number of minutes had gone by with no sign of an ambulance, the doctor insisted a member of the crows call the emergency services once more. The doctor then spoke to the controller and identified himself, reporting that the casualty was a biker with multiple traumas, a fracture of the lower limbs and a head injury. Growing increasingly concerned, the doctor requested an emergency equipped ambulance be set to the scene “urgently”. The operator advised the doctor that the closest emergency ambulance was already in service in Marbella, and that they have summoned the next available unit which was from Arroyo de la Miel, some 12 kilometres away from Fuengirola.

Whilst the emergency treatment continued, another couple joined the scene, both of whom identified themselves as doctors and assisted the original helper, now with three doctors working to save the life of the victim who was deteriorating rapidly, his conscience diminishing, the pulse was almost imperceptible and very shallow breathing. Some twenty minutes had elapsed, with both the Guardia Civil and local police in attendance with the now three doctors, but still no ambulance to be seen.

The complaint claims that at 16:20, the injured biker entered cardiac arrest, and that after a further 2 minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the basic, none-emergency ambulance sent from Arroyo de la Miel arrived, followed a minute later by the paramedic equipped unit. The victim died at the roadside some 30 minutes after the accident, despite the efforts of everybody to preserve his life.

This is yet another case highlighting the cutbacks made to the public health service in Spain, most of which have gone largely unnoticed, until such time as emergency assistance is needed. We have covered the cut backs in the ambulance service on a number of occasions in The Leader, with those opposing the cuts stating time and time again that this will cost lives.

What is more tragic in this case is that the scene of the incident was just 200 from the medical clinic of Las Lagunas de Mijas, which the complainant states is just a minute and a half walk for a doctor to walk with equipment in hand, or just a minute for an ambulance, should one have been available.

It is believed that the victim died as a result of cardiac arrest, caused by internal injuries and shock, and although it is quite possible that he would have died in transit or in surgery, the complaining doctor states that “nobody should be left to die at the side of the road”.

The emergency coordination centre used established protocols for diverting resources when others were being utilised on other medical instances, but the fact still remains that the delay is considered unacceptable and once more highlights the hidden dangers that cuts to healthcare and emergency services can lead to.

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