Fears over inadequate ambulance response times resurfaced over the weekend when a football player was left waiting in ‘horrific’ pain for almost an hour after breaking his leg.
Skegness Town’s John Courtney suffered the agonising injury just 10 minutes into Saturday’s home defeat against high-flying league rivals Ruston Sports.
Although a solo responder arrived soon after, it was 56 minutes before an ambulance took the 23-year-old to Boston Pilgrim Hospital - and then, like the bus saying goes, a second came along just minutes later.
Spectators and team officials have criticised the slow response and accused the service of mismanaging its resources by sending two ambulances to the same call-out.
Bill Edgley, who was watching from the sidelines, fears response times will only worsen when the holiday season picks up.
“I can understand the difficulties they face but when you’re two minutes from the ambulance station you’d think they’d be there a little quicker,” he said.
“There were a lot of elderly people there and if one of them had a heart attack I don’t know what would have happened.”
Bill’s son Gary the Town manager said he was reminded him of when the service was criticised for its response when the young sportsman Craig Rawlinson died tragically during a training session at Skegness Academy last year.
“This was not a life or death situation but it was still a broken leg and the response time was not great - John was in a lot of pain,” he said.
“When they arrived, you couldn’t fault the ambulance crew, but as far as the response time goes, I’ve got two elderly parents and if something happened to them I’d take them to hospital myself.”
John, who is expecting his first child in the coming months, has since undergone surgery for the broken leg and fractured ankle but although he expects to be back on his feet within two months he has been told it will be a while longer before he returns to football.
Having been given morphine by the solo responder, he says his memory what happened is unclear, though he remembers the pain and waiting on the pitch in the rain.
“When it happened it felt horrific,” he said.
“Without even looking at it I knew something was not quite right because I’ve never felt anything like it before - the pain didn’t compare to anything I’ve ever known.”
East Midlands Ambulance Service has apologised to John for the delay, which it says was due to the distance the ambulance had to cover.
It has urged patients with minor injuries to use the appropriate health service so that genuine emergencies such as John’s can be dealt with more swiftly.
“Treatment can be gained from minor injury units or urgent care centres which can be accessed via a relative, friend or taxi providing transport,” a spokesperson said.
Visit www.nhs.uk for details of local services.