We just had a phone call from my mother in law, who told us that her uncle (89 years old next Tuesday) was unwell today. After doing a spot of shopping in town, he took a fall on the way to catch a bus home. He was shaken, and had a cut on his face, but managed to walk on to the bus stop after a breathing space. However, just as they were nearing their bus stop to get off the bus, he passed out. Obviously the bus was stopped, but as he came around quite soon it was agreed that the bus should carry on into the village they were travelling to, but the bus driver would call an ambulance to come and collect our uncle from the bus. On reaching the village, our uncle passed out again, but thankfully came round quickly. Twice or three times the bus driver radioed the bus depot as the ambulance hadn’t arrived. The bus depot chased the ambulance service but with little luck. It took forty five minutes for the ‘rapid response’ ambulance car to reach our 89 year old uncle, who has a prior history of heart problems and had passed out more than once. The main university hospital and casualty unit is only a five minute drive from the village they were in (a suburb of Cardiff), so by this point it would have been far quicker to have called a taxi to get him to hospital. After a further fifteen minutes, at an hour after they were initally called out, the ambulance itself arrived.
It scares me to think what a low priority our uncle was to the ambulance service. Thankfully, he had started to feel a little better by this point, so as he was insisting that he definitely didn’t want to go to the hospital (he has that aversion to ‘unnecessary’ hospital visits that so many of his generation share) he paramedics agreed to take him to my mother in law’s house instead. He has spent most of the afternoon sleeping, probably as much as an after effect of the shock of his day as of anything else, but hopefully after a restful day and a good night’s sleep tonight he’ll feel much better.