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Ramping Becomes a Significant Factor in Fatal 10-hour Ambulance Wait

According to a review of the incident, emergency responders failed to recognize the risk to a vulnerable patient who tragically passed away after waiting 10 hours for an ambulance pickup.

Eddie, a 54-year-old man living in disability care in Adelaide’s east, experienced severe abdominal pain and vomiting on Dec. 27, prompting a call for an ambulance with an initial priority five designation. This designation should have resulted in a pickup within 60 minutes, but Eddie ended up waiting for 10 hours.

As his condition worsened, a subsequent call to triple zero escalated Eddie to priority one status. Ambulance crews arrived within four minutes, but unfortunately, it was too late.

The review, released on March 3, highlighted ambulance ramping as a significant factor contributing to the delay, along with a high volume of triple zero calls causing delays in reaching Eddie and a consistent underestimation of his risk profile by responders.

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The review did not conclusively state that ramping led to Eddie’s death, as this will be investigated by the coroner. However, it provided seven recommendations for improvement, such as better risk identification and refining dispatch procedures.

Rob Elliott, the chief executive of the South Australian Ambulance Service (SAAS), pledged to implement all seven recommendations, emphasizing the need for timely actions and improvements.

Mentioning the mismatch between workload and available ambulances, Mr. Elliott acknowledged the impact of high triple zero volumes and ramping on reducing ambulance capacity.

Ambulance ramping was a significant issue that influenced the election outcome in 2022, with Labor coming into power. Despite improvements in response times, ramping has continued to increase.

South Australian Health Minister Chris Picton highlighted the need to release more ambulances to respond to the community, acknowledging the long road ahead in strengthening the hospital system.

Opposition Leader David Speirs expressed his ongoing support for Eddie’s family, who hoped the recommendations would prevent future tragedies like Eddie’s passing due to ramping.

Mr. Speirs criticized SA Premier Peter Malinauskas, pointing out the contradiction between his election promises and the reality faced by Eddie.

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