Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

999 Crew on a Break - So Call a Helicopter; EXCLUSIVE Crash Victim Rings Medic to Bypass Control Room

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

999 Crew on a Break - So Call a Helicopter; EXCLUSIVE Crash Victim Rings Medic to Bypass Control Room

Article excerpt

Byline: By Neil McKay

AMBULANCE bosses came under fire last night for arranging to send a helicopter 75 miles to a road accident while paramedics were having a meal break just four miles away.

Motorcyclist Glen Hollis was lying in agony with a broken arm in freezing temperatures because control room staff would not disturb the two crew nearby.

It was only because Mr Hollis was a personal friend of one of the ambulance men and able to ring him direct that the helicopter from RAF Boulmer in Northumberland, was stood down.

The accident happened in Eastgate, Weardale, County Durham on Saturday.

Mr Hollis, 39, who is suffering from a broken right arm and cuts and bruises, said: "Had I not known one of the paramedics, Craig Hay, I would have been lying there for goodness knows how long.

"Craig had not been told by the control room about the accident. They would not disturb them during a meal break, which seems crazy."

Mr Hollis, a chief engineer with the merchant navy, had called to see Mr Hay, a fellow motorbike enthusiast, at St John's Chapel ambulance station minutes before his accident.

He said: "I knew Craig was on duty and I couldn't understand it when people who had come out to assist were getting agitated because the ambulance wasn't coming.

"I have his number in my mobile phone and got somebody to call him.

"He and his colleague were out within minutes," said Mr Hollis, who is married to Sheila, and lives at Neville's Cross, Durham.

The accident happened outside the village' s Cross Keys pub.

Durham County Councillor John Shuttleworth, who has campaigned against a cut in rural ambulance cover, accused the North East Ambulance Service of "putting money before lives".

He said: "It is high time the Ambulance Trust put its house in order and addressed the meal break situation, which has festered for some time. …

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