Injured Geraldton teen waits 50 minutes for ambulance transfer due to ‘ramping’, says father

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton student Jaymee Brown, 13, was walking to school when she tripped and broke her neck.
Camera IconGeraldton student Jaymee Brown, 13, was walking to school when she tripped and broke her neck. Credit: Paul Brown/Supplied/Paul Brown/Supplied

A Geraldton teenager at the centre of a freak accident which could have left her paralysed is expected to be released from hospital this weekend, days after she was forced to wait almost an hour for an ambulance transfer.

Jaymee Brown, 13, was walking to the bus stop on Tuesday when she tripped and plummeted into the pavement.

She has no memory of the event but it is likely a moment which will not be forgotten by her brother, who raised the alarm and brought a nurse to Jaymee’s aid.

A paramedic trained in trauma response also happened to be nearby and helped to stabilise Jaymee before the ambulance arrived to transfer her to Geraldton Regional Hospital.

Scans confirmed the force of tumble had caused Jaymee’s C5 vertebrae to “shear” and the decision was made to fly her to Perth immediately for treatment.

An RFDS spokesperson said the plane left Geraldton at 3.55pm and arrived at Jandakot Airport at 5.11pm, with clinicians informed an ambulance would meet them upon landing.

But medics were forced to wait with Jaymee and her mother Rebecca for 48 minutes before St John’s Ambulance arrived to transfer the teen to Perth Children’s Hospital.

A St John’s WA spokesperson said the crew who were initially assigned to Jaymee were stood down to attend to a “more urgent incident”, meaning the job was re-tasked.

They said the State ambulance service aimed to arrive within 15 minutes during a “life-threatening” emergency in the metropolitan area and within 60 minutes during “less urgent situations”.

The high school student was one of 27 patients retrieved by RFDS that day and it is understood no other patient transfers were affected by the ambulance delay.

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But father Paul Brown said the hold-up — which he attributed to ambulance ramping — could have had “devastating” consequences for his daughter and other patients.

“I was sitting at PCH waiting and I could look across the road to the Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre and all the ambulances were there ramped,” he said.

“The ambulances weren’t available because they were all sitting at emergency departments because they could discharge their patients into full hospitals.

“Plus, the RFDS couldn’t leave because they had to stay there and look after Bec and Jaymee. That could have had a devastating impact on the person that was waiting for that flight.”

The former Nationals MP said healthcare workers deserved “medals every day” for their standard of care, but he slammed the State Government for failing to take action on excessive ambulance ramping.

“The ramping figures now have blown out to four and five times worse compared to when we were in government,” he said.

“That is purely because this government is not spending enough money on beds and staff to reduce the impact of this ramping and reduce the impact on people.”

Since the accident, it has been confirmed Jaymee suffered no injury to her spinal cord and has been able to walk around the hospital.

Mr Brown said his family were feeling “very lucky” and hoped to welcome Jaymee back home to Geraldton at the weekend.

The Health Minister has been contacted for comment.

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