A desperate woman gave birth en route to hospital with her panicked family after waiting an hour for an help, the ambulance union says.
A desperate woman gave birth en route to hospital with her panicked family after waiting an hour for an help, the ambulance union says.

Baby born on roadside after ambos made mum wait

A pregnant woman who waited almost an hour for an ambulance gave birth en route to the hospital when her panicking family decided they had to drive her themselves.

SA Ambulance Service chief executive David Place said paramedics met the family just minutes after they drove off from their northern suburbs home and in a roadside delivery 20 minutes later the newborn arrived.

"We can confirm that a healthy baby was born en route to hospital and 20 minutes after our paramedics arrived in the early hours of Monday morning," Mr Place said.

"Crews met the parents just 2-3 minutes after the parents began to make their way to hospital independently and were in time to assist with the birth and immediate post-natal care."

The incident is one of a string of issues the Ambulance Employees Association has highlighted over the past few days to show workloads are increasing and ramping has returned, including 25 ambulances ramped at two hospitals at 3pm on Monday.

AEA state secretary Phil Palmer said at one stage in the early hours of Sunday there were ten priority 2 cases and 13 priority 3 cases which were not covered.

"In the early hours of Monday morning an emergency pregnancy call was left uncovered without an ambulance for over 50 minutes in Adelaide's northern suburbs," Mr Palmer said. "The family out of desperation started driving to hospital themselves and met ambulance on the way."

Mr Palmer said at 3pm on Monday there were 19 ambulances ramped outside the Royal Adelaide Hospital and six at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

"These 25 ambulances should have been freed up to respond to other emergency and urgent cases but even in times of no ramping, SAAS struggles to meet demand, like on Sunday 13th for example," he said.

He also cited a case last Thursday where a patient suffered a cardiac arrest in Strathalbyn where he said SAAS requested urgent assistance from police and fire services to assist with CPR while waiting for a single paramedic who arrived after 18 minutes.

However, Mr Place called this claim "inaccurate" saying: "SAAS was initially called to attend an urgent but non-life threatening case, and an incredibly fast response was provided as the patient's condition deteriorated.

"It is not unusual for SAPOL, Fire and SAAS to assist one another at cases, particularly in regional areas. Early CPR saves lives."

Mr Palmer says crews "continue to work dangerously long hours working 12 hour shifts without a single meal break," and blamed the government for failing to support safe staffing levels.

SAAS confirmed there was unusually high demand over the weekend but that 95 per cent of triple 0 calls were answered within ten seconds.

"It is unclear what is triggering a recent rise in calls for ambulance assistance but this is being felt nationwide," Mr Place noted.

"It may be attributable to pre-Christmas activity, post COVID-19 restrictions easing and individuals who have avoided primary care during isolation now becoming critically unwell.

"While some South Australians will have experienced longer than normal wait times, our priority is to our sickest most time-dependent patients.

"All our triple-0 callers receive immediate care advice from our amazing call taking staff. Additionally, many lower acuity patients over the weekend were, as they are daily, rapidly assessed through our Clinical Telephone Assessment service, which is staffed by experienced paramedics who have the ability to triage and refer patients to a wider range of care options outside that of an emergency department.

"It is, of course, challenging for both our paramedics and ambulance officers, as well as our patients when surges occur. Our crews do an amazing job responding to South Australians during their time of need."

Originally published as Baby born on roadside after ambos made mum wait