AMBULANCE bosses have apologised for leaving a young South Tyneside woman with a broken back lying in agony on a freezing-cold riverside.
Lynsey Mullen had to wait for over an hour for an ambulance crew to arrive after she suffered a shattered vertebra in a sledging accident at Hebburn Riverside Park.
The 22-year-old’s family have blasted the delay as “disgraceful”.
This is the fifth story about delays hitting the ambulance service in South Tyneside reported to the Gazette in recent weeks,
Ambulance officials say the incident has sparked a review into “missed opportunities” to send out a rapid-response paramedic.
Julie Moon, 45, the injured woman’s mother, said: “I just think it was deplorable that Lynsey had to wait so long for an ambulance.
“One of Lynsey’s vertebra was broken in four places – just like a jigsaw puzzle, the doctors said – and she was in agony while she waited on the bank.
“The ambulance service admitted missing four opportunities to send out a rapid-response paramedic to Lynsey, meaning that it was almost two hours after the first call for help was made before she was taken to hospital.
“She still had lumps of ice in her clothes when she got to hospital. I just think the whole episode was disgraceful and totally unprofessional.”
Miss Mullen was sledging on the snowy riverbank with her twin sister, Rachael, 22, and a friend on Sunday, January 20, when she is believed to have hit either a manhole cover or a brick.
Mrs Moon, of Cedar Drive, Hedworth, Jarrow, added: “It was a nightmare because Lynsey was seriously injured, and dozens of families were still sledging down the bank and just missing her without realising what had happened.”
The injured Jarrow shop assistant later spent 19 days confined to a bed at South Tyneside District Hospital in South Shields after the accident and now walks with the aid of a back brace.
She is still undergoing scans and x-rays at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary and has been told she might suffer back pain for years.
The family received a report from the North East Ambulance Service which said their ambulance took 68 minutes to arrive – 38 minutes more than the target response time for such a call.
The service apologised and admitted it could also have assigned a rapid-response paramedic to the scene to attend Miss Mullen before the ambulance arrived.
It put the delay down to high emergency demands at the time.
Last month, the Gazette told how Henrietta Rowan, 82, was left lying on the bathroom floor of her Hebburn home for almost four hours as she and her son Allan waited for an ambulance after she fell over.