Delay in ambulance dispatch to fatal cyclist crash

March 11, 2013

By Christine Keighery

It has emerged that an ambulance took almost half an hour to arrive at the scene of a fatal road accident which claimed the life of a cyclist in Newry on Wednesday morning.

Despite the accident occurring less than two miles from Daisy Hill hospital, Ambulance Service confirmed that it took 21 minutes before a paramedic in a Rapid Response Vehicle attended, and a further eight minutes before an ambulance arrived.

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said it regretted the delayed response time citing that all available resources were already otherwise engaged.

Twenty-seven year old Jaroslaw Lewandowski, a Polish father of two, died when his cycle was in collision with a van towing a trailer on the Old Warrenpoint Road around 11.30am.

A spokesperson from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) confirmed with The Examiner that a call was received at 11:31am.

“All resources in the area were already responding to calls at the time and the nearest available Rapid Response Paramedic was diverted from another emergency call to respond to this incident,” the spokesman said.

“The Rapid Response Paramedic arrived at the scene in 21 minutes and immediately commenced treatment of the patient.  The next available and appropriate resource was also dispatched to the scene, arriving eight minutes later. The patient was taken to Daisy Hill hospital.”

The NIAS statement revealed that, within the Southern Trust area, the performance target is to respond to 65% of Category A (immediately life threatening) calls within eight minutes.

“We regret that on this occasion we did not meet the performance target due to all our resources being already engaged on other emergency activity in the area.  We would like to tender our sincere sympathies to the family of the young man who, so tragically, lost his life in this incident,” the spokesman added.

Commenting on the fatality, local political representatives extended sympathy to the deceased’s family.

SDLP MLA Karen McKevitt described the young cyclist’s death as a “terrible tragedy which highlights the dangers on our roads and the importance of road safety.”

Mrs McKevitt said she hoped that a full investigation would take place into the specific circumstances of the accident and appealed to all road users to be road safe “and respect everyone’s journey.”

“My words will not make it easier for the parents and family of this young man to come to terms with their grievous loss. But I can assure them that I will continue to fight for improving road safety and better awareness of cyclists, to make sure that no other families have to deal with this sort of tragedy.” she saidl

Sinn Féin Councillor Brendan Curran echoed those sentiments, offering his sympathy to the friends and family of Mr Lewandowski.

“This is a terrible tragedy. This young Polish national has travelled to Ireland in search of a better life and has sadly become another victim on our roads,” he said.

Councillor Curran says he has been campaigning for eighteen months to have the speed limit on the stretch of road in question reduced from 40mph to 30mph.

“I have held meetings about it and through the Council last week I called for another meeting to take place with Roads Service and the PSNI to get the speed limit lowered on this road. I have tried to get traffic calming measures implemented, however, this cannot happen until the speed limit is dropped down to 30mph” he said.

Passing on his condolences, SDLP MLA, Dominic Bradley highlighted the fact that road fatalities have fallen dramatically in recent years but admitted there were still “serious issues to be addressed on our roads.”

Police have  launched an appeal for information regarding Wednesday’s accident and anyone with information is asked to contact Ardmore police station.