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Greece 2023: Three more people die while waiting for ambulance

Three more people have died since the weekend, while they were waiting for the ambulance. The one incident took place in Peristeri, suburb of western Athens, in the early hours of Saturday, while the other two on the islands of Lesvos and Evia on Wednesday.

The tragedies took place as the government tries to ‘recruit’ firefighters and armed forces members to work as ambulance crews without extra paying or hiring of skilled rescuers.

It should be recalled that another four people, among them two tourists, died in June because the ambulance arrived with delay or not at all.

On Thursday, the mayor of Psachna in Evia transferred with his own vehicle a 75-year-old man to the local health center. The man, a former goalkeeper of Panionios FC, was spending his summer vacations there and apparently suffered a brain stroke. There was no ambulance available to the area 50 km from Halkida and 30 km from Psachna.

The mayor told media that there only two ambulances for the region with 220,000 permanent residents and thousands of tourists every summer.

Last three incidents

Evia

According to local media evima.gr, a 76-year-old man died on Wednesday afternoon, July 5, in Mantoudi, Evia, as the ambulance was delayed.

The man fell sick and his family decided to transport him to the Health Center in their own vehicle, a rural pick up truck. The man died on the way there.

The man’s family said that they called an ambulance, but in the second call made to EKAV service, they were informed that there was no driver available for the ambulance.

In fact, they were informed that they could not take the patient to the local Health Center, as they would have to wait for the ambulance from Halkida, which would take an hour.

Lesvos

An 80-year-old woman lost consciousness after she came out of the sea at the Gavaths beach on Wednesday.

Other beach-goers called the ambulance service and the vehicle had to come from Kalloni, 1.5 hous away.

The woman died while waiting for the ambulance, she was taken to Adissa Health Center, where she was pronounced dead.

The doctor and former deputy mayor, Michalis Roussis, who was on duty at the Antissa Health Center at that time, stated that the island’s ambulance had to respond to three incidents at the same time, including a drowning.

Speaking to local media stonisi.gr, Roussis said, among others “we have two new ambulances but no drivers1”

“The most serious incident was the one on Gavatha beach where a woman came out of the sea unconscious. The EKAV ambulance brought her to the Health Center after a long time and she was dead. I am not in a position to know if she would have been saved in case our own ambulance went to the beach earlier, if we had a driver on duty. In any case we would follow the protocol of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in drowning incidents for at least half an hour,” Roussis said.

The other two incidents that kept the ambulance busy involved a person with epilepsy and an elderly person with coronavirus.”

Referring to shortages at the Adissa Health Center Roussis described doctors’ on-call duty as a “Russian roulette.”

“You never know what’s going to happen on your shift. If you’re going to have one or two serious incidents, if you’re going to have a car accident with a serious injury. Unfortunately as it stands there are 9-10 vacant ambulance driver shifts a month unfilled and in case of emergency the EKAV ambulance arrives in 2 hours from Mytilini and in 1.5 hours if it is located in Kalloni.”

Especially in the summer months when the needs are very high, we need not one but two shifts for ambulance drivers because the traffic is increased and there are many emergency incidents,” he stressed.

He added that on weekend evenings there is neither a nurse to support the service nor a person for the laboratories.

Peristeri, Athens

the third victim is a 52-year-old doctor, father of two minors, who suffered a heart attack and died due to not available ambulance but also due to lack of medical support in a private clinic.

“We have no ambulance to send you,” was the information the ambulance service gave to the man’s wife who called the EKAV immediately after her husband collapsed, daily efsyn reported.

  • “Literally anyone could be in his place, as at peak hours in Attica up to 70 cases are waiting for an ambulance.”

Ten minutes later, another relatives made a second phone call to EKAV and they   stressing that the situation required an urgent transfer to a hospital.

Again they were turned down due to lack of available ambulance.

The relatives asked if they should take him to Attiko hospital located 500 meters from their home. they were told not to do so because the hospital was on on duty for emergencies. They were instead told to take him to Gennimatas hospital at the other end of Athens.

As the man had a private insurance and in absence of any other alternative, they decided to transport him in their own vehicle to the nearest private clinic in the same suburb.

Arriving there, the patient underwent a cardiogram and they were told that they cannot intubate him. They told the pale, suffering man in big pain that he has to be transferred to the other clinic of the group in Maroussi in northern Athens “to be intubated there.”

However, there was no ambulance immediately available at the private clinic to take him to Maroussi.

70 minutes after the first call for an ambulance, his wife received an EKAV phone call asking if they still needed an ambulance.

The man died in the private clinic almost two and a half hours after the first symptoms of the heart attack.

His family claimed he wasn’t even given CPR, although the clinic reportedly denied this.

PS it is truly tragic that people lose their life while helplessly waiting for an ambulance in Greece 2023.

The Mitsotakis government was in power from 2019-2023 and did nothing to improve the situation which has obviously deteriorated. The conservative gov’t continues the same tactic also after the re-election on June 25, with the recruitment of unskilled and a basic a-few-hours training with firefighters and armed forces members, instead of hiring ambulance crews.

Media report that there are 3,000 graduates of the ambulance service waiting for a job as rescuers.

Note that after the hospital workers, also members of the Armed Forces raised their objections to the new scheme on Thursday.

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