VITAL lessons have been learned from the emergency services’ response to the tragic death of Angel Smith last summer. Angel died in a house fire at her home in Bryn Gorwel, Carmarthen. It took an ambulance half an hour to reach her home by which time she had been taken to the nearby hospital in the back of a police car. Investigations by local MP Mr Hart revealed that half of the ambulances in west Wales that evening were unavailable because they were on a break or off duty.
Mr Hart has been acting on behalf of Angel’s family and has repeatedly questioned the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust (WAST) over the length of time it took to respond and the categorisation of the call. “WAST maintains that the 999 call was put in the correct category, one which has a response target time of 30 minutes,” explained Mr Hart. “However in October, as a result of this case, they changed their policy on this type of call-out. From now on, this type of call will fall into ‘Green 1’ and will require a response time of 20 minutes – which is 33% faster.
This was a very traumatic incident for Angel’s family, the neighbours who tried to help and the police who were first on the scene and who ended up taking her to Glangwili in their car. I am reassured that a new category of call relating to house fires has been introduced by WAST as a result.” However, Mr Hart is still concerned that police cars are having to take patients to hospital so frequently.
“I discovered that Dyfed-Powys Police had to take casualties to hospital 68 times between April and August this year and that is simply unacceptable. Police officers are not trained paramedics and should not be having to step in because of a shortage of ambulances. I shall continue to press WAST management for improvements.”