Doctor's anger at 90-minute wait for baby's ambulance

A CASTLEMAINE doctor has told how she waited for almost 90 minutes for an ambulance to take a five-month-old girl who was having breathing problems to Bendigo Hospital.But Ambulance Victoria spokesman James Howe said it took 74 minutes for the ambulance to arrive.Based on the information received, he said that was a reasonable response and dispatch time.Dr Rebecca Dale said the baby was taken to her surgery on Wednesday suffering bronchiolitis — a common infection that affects about a third of babies in their first year, but which can be very serious. The baby was discharged on Saturday.“I kept coming out to the staff asking if the ambulance had come,” Dr Dale said.“If a five-month-old is having trouble breathing, then it is a high priority. I was very surprised we waited so long.’’Dr Dale has been practising in Castlemaine for 28 years and said that although the population had increased, the staffing resources for the ambulance had largely stayed the same. “If an adult has the virus it’s similar to a cold.“But for an infant it can go down to the lungs and is as serious as pneumonia.“It doesn’t respond to antibiotics.“You can’t tell a baby to keep breathing.“If the infant gets too tired to breathe it will stop.“I’m not blaming the paramedics, I know they do a fantastic job.“It seems to be happening more recently.”Mr Howe said that at the time of the call Ambulance Victoria was told that the baby had been suffering cold symptoms for seven days and they had increased in the previous two days.“Without additional information it was coded as a code three case, which is not a high priority.“While it is distressing for the mother, we need to look at broader dispatching times. It may appear that 75 minutes is a long time to wait, but based on the information we had it was a reasonable dispatch and response time.“We had another case at exactly the same time that was a back injury which was acute and treated straight away.“We’re happy to discuss this with the doctor and the mother.’