Sheringham heart attack man's three-hour ambulance wait
- 1 November 2012
- From the section Norfolk
The ambulance service has said it is investigating after a man who had a heart attack had to wait three hours for an ambulance in Norfolk.
Jimmy Sadler, 65, was at home with his wife in Sheringham when he became ill on Sunday afternoon.
His family and ambulance volunteers, one of whom arrived "more or less straightaway", were told one crew was diverted and another had to get petrol.
The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) said the wait was unacceptable.
Billy Sadler said two "first responders" quickly came to his brother Jimmy's aid.
They soon realised Jimmy was probably having a heart attack and called for an ambulance at 16:45 GMT.
Mr Sadler said his wife, sister and sister-in-law were "panicking" with Jimmy while he waited outside the house to ensure the ambulance did not drive past.
"They then got a message to say that our ambulance had to be diverted to someone else," he said.
"We we were told another one had to stop for petrol.
"Everyone was trying to keep Jimmy awake and keep him talking.
"In the meantime his heart stopped and his heart stopped again on the way to hospital."
Mr Sadler added: "You don't expect to have to wait three hours. I just couldn't believe it.
"If the [first responders] hadn't been there to look after him, he would have died and we'd be arranging a funeral service now."
An ambulance arrived at 19:45 GMT and Mr Sadler was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where he was given emergency surgery.
He is now recovering at home.
A spokesman for EEAS said: "This incident is of significant concern to the trust and has been raised for a thorough investigation.
"While Mr Sadler was under the expert care of a highly trained clinician during the wait for an ambulance to take him to hospital, we offer our sincere apologies to him and his family as the length of this wait was simply not acceptable."
He added that Norfolk would soon have "more than 160 hours' extra coverage a week to tackle isolated back-up issues such as this."
Act on Ambulances, a Labour-run campaign against cuts to the ambulance service in north Norfolk, has said it is concerned about the complaints it has heard.
Ambulance staffing hours have been reduced by 56 in North Walsham in a partial climbdown from EEAS's initial plans to cut one ambulance from the town and in Cromer.