The family of a disabled man who died after an agonising wait for an ambulance in Adelaide’s east has hit out at the state government and is furious no one has taken responsibility for his death.
Eddie Fitchett, 54, took his last breath at his Hectorville care home on December 27, despite three calls to emergency services across 10 hours.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Family of disabled man who died after 10-hour wait for ambulance speaks.
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The “gentle giant” had been suffering abdominal pain and vomiting and was desperate for help.
A Code White had been declared, with emergency departments across the city overwhelmed and ambulances backed up, unable to unload patients.
A video posted by the Ambulance Employees Association (AEA) to X (formerly Twitter) shows at least 10 vehicles waiting outside the Royal Adelaide Hospital on the same night.
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The man was initially listed as a priority five, which the union says should have resulted in a pick-up within 60 minutes.
But after 10 hours, his condition deteriorated and a subsequent triple-0 call resulted in him being bumped up to a priority one.
Ambulance crews responded four minutes after the priority was lifted.
On Wednesday, Fitchett’s aunty took aim at SA Premier Peter Malinauskas over ambulance ramping, which hit a record high in November.
“Mr Malinauskas, you promised South Australia you were going to fix ramping. You’ve failed,” Brenda said.
She added: “This is your fault, your problem, fix it. The buck stops with you.”
Eddie Fitchett died after waiting more than 10 hours for an ambulance. Credit: 7NEWS
While ramping hit a new high at the back end of 2023, authorities say response times to priority cases did fall within target ranges.
“We continue to take every possible action that we can because it’s so important that we prevent other circumstances like this happening in the future,” Health Minister Chris Picton, who has been under pressure from the opposition to resign, said.
7NEWS learned on Wednesday the premier’s office has reached out to Fitchett’s family to organise a meeting, but they have so far declined the offer.
AEA industrial officer Josh Karpowicz said previously that Fitchett’s death “is a stark reminder” that ramping leaves patients “without care for unacceptably and dangerously long periods of time”.
An internal review into ambulance operations has been launched in the wake of the incident.
“I really want people to have confidence in a medical emergency. Please reach out to us,” SA Ambulance Service chief executive Rob Elliott said.
– With AAP