Georgina Wild: Ashby woman dies after waiting hours for ambulance

St John, WA, has apologized after an 80-year-old grandmother died of a heart attack while waiting for an ambulance at her home for 2 1/2 hours.

The state government had ordered an urgent review of the latest tragedy that had rocked the crisis-stricken state health system, which began when Georgina Wild called triple-0 around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday for help, complaining of chest pains.

The task was flagged as a priority meaning an ambulance should have arrived at Mrs. Wild’s Ashby home within 15 minutes under lights and sirens.

But 30 minutes later, the St. John call center informed Ms. Wild that no ambulances were available. She got the same information when the call center did another health check at 3:30 a.m., half an hour later.

The next time an operator from St. John called, there was no answer.


When an ambulance finally arrived, 2 1/2 hours after the first call, they found Mrs. Wild lifeless on her couch with the television still on.

Her answering machine read: “Hello Georgina, it’s Daniel from the St John Ambulance call center here just calling to check in.”

St John admitted it was wrong.

“This is a deplorable case where we have not been able to live up to the standard we have set for ourselves,” said a St John spokesman.

“It’s never good to hear someone come by. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and will review the case clinically.”

St John CEO Michelle Fyfe told Nine News: “Sometimes words aren’t enough…there are no words that can make this better…there are no words.”

I expect St John to do everything reasonably within its power to provide timely and effective service to the people of Western Australia.

Health Secretary Amber-Jade Sanderson said she was deeply concerned about the incident and expressed her condolences to the patient’s family.

“St John has assured me that a full and proper investigation will be conducted, and I have asked if a representative from the Department of Health is part of the assessment,” said Ms Sanderson.

“It is critical that when someone urgently needs an ambulance, it arrives on time. I expect St John to do everything reasonably within its power to provide timely and effective service to the people of Western Australia.

“This includes activating the Critical Employee Policy to reduce staff leave pressure, which I understand has now happened.”

The tragedy is the latest in a string of incidents attributable to ambulance shortages, a surge in demand, and congestion in hospital emergency rooms.

Earlier this year, a woman in her 70s who suffered back pain died at Busselton Hospital after being transported through St. John.

She is believed to be “urgent” on arrival, but 3 1/2 hours later, she was untreated as she rapidly deteriorated and died of a suspected heart attack.

One of the many unanswered questions in the case is whether the woman was still in the care of paramedics when she died and whether those paramedics were licensed or volunteers. The health minister has launched a seven-person investigation to get to the bottom of the tragedy.

That was followed by the death of a woman from a heart attack in Geraldton while waiting for an ambulance to arrive, despite the base being nearby.

John D.Mayne
I love to write. When I wasn’t writing for my school newspaper or college blog, I was writing personal essays and journal entries. Then I discovered I loved to write. In college, I wrote for my school paper and my campus radio show. I started doing freelance writing for the Huffington Post in 2009. Then, I joined the team at Newsmyth as a writer/editor. Now, I spend most of my time writing for Newsmyth and as a guest blogger on a handful of other blogs. When I’m not writing, I like to read, travel, cook, and spend time with friends.