Elderly woman left lying on footpath for ambulance

Ambulance Victoria staff treat the woman. PICTURE: PATRICK BYRNE

Ambulance Victoria staff treat the woman. PICTURE: PATRICK BYRNE

A Ballarat woman was forced to lie on a footpath for more than one hour on Wednesday as she waited for an ambulance after a fall.

The woman in her late 60s fell down outside the UnitingCare furniture store in Albert Street about 12.30pm. 

Frantic workers were forced to use rugs and doonas to keep the woman warm, calling triple-zero four times to make sure an ambulance was on the way. 

More than one hour later, about 1.40pm, the ambulance arrived. 

UnitingCare chief executive officer Cliff Barclay said the incident shouldn’t have happened, despite the woman’s minor injuries and stable condition.

“I would have thought that’s simply not quick enough,” Mr Barclay said.

“If we had have known it was going to take that long we would have put her in a car.

“We’re not that far from the hospital.”

Ambulance Employees Australia state assistant secretary Danny Hill said the original call was received at 12.39pm. 

He said the case was not dispatched to an ambulance until 1.10pm. 

“So for 31 minutes there were no crews in Ballarat,” Mr Hill said. 

He said a crew in Beaufort received the call-out and were at the scene in 30 minutes, arriving at 1.40pm. 

Ambulance Victoria group manager Graham McGrath said the call came during a busy period in Ballarat, with other ambulance crews attending six other patients. 

“While we would obviously like to reach all patients as quickly as possible, we have to prioritise our ambulances to the sickest patients first, especially those with life-threatening conditions,” Mr McGrath said. 

“Our Beaufort-based crew was on its way to the Ballarat area for another patient when it was assigned this case.

“We understand that the time taken to attend the patient would have been distressing for her and those with her.”

The Courier understands the woman was released from hospital late on Wednesday.

patrick.byrne@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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