A pensioner thought he was “going to die” when he had to wait for over two hours for an ambulance after falling in the street – despite his daughter calling 999 four times.
Great-grandfather Terence Howard, 72, banged his head and broke his nose in the fall, but was left lying in the freezing cold as he was not considered a “priority” by emergency service operators.
He fell after getting off a bus and was lay prone on the patch between a bus stop and the road.
Emergency call operators told his daughter, Paula, not to move him as he had banged his head.
But an ambulance was not dispatched until his daughter told them he was struggling to breath – more than two hours after they were first called.
As his condition worsened, Terence said he felt a “large ball” in the back of his throat which caused him breathing difficulties – and believes he would have died if the ambulance had taken any longer to be dispatched.
Terence said: “I would have died if the ambulance hadn’t come then.
“I was shivering, it was freezing cold, I think hypothermia would have set in if I was left there any longer.
“When the ambulance arrived, I felt like I was on my last breath.”
Diabetic Terence, who volunteers as a mental health facilitator, fell as he left Radcliffe bus station in Gtr Manchester to head for the shops at around 5pm on Tuesday, October 1.
He believes his blood sugar levels were too high, which caused him to lose balance.
Medics didn’t arrive at the scene until just after 7pm – after four frantic calls from his daughter Paula telling the operator her dad’s condition was worsening.
Terence, from Bolton, Gtr Manchester, added: “I got off the bus and I smashed my head and elbow on the floor as I fell.
“I broke my nose and there was blood everywhere.
“A woman on a bus saw I had fallen and screamed at the driver to pull over.
“The driver parked his bus next to me and said he wasn’t going to move it so it would protect me from the wind.
“They put their coats on me to keep me warm. I would have been dead if people hadn’t come out and put those coats on me.
“It shouldn’t have taken that long for ambulance to come out. Once it had been dispatched, it was here in minutes.
“They should have sent one out earlier.”
Terence’s distraught daughter, who was travelling home to Bolton from Stafford at the time, received a phone call from the passer-by from her dad’s phone.
An ambulance had been called, but by the time Paula arrived at Radcliffe bus station, it had not been dispatched.
Paula rang the emergency services four times to ask where the ambulance was.
She was told not to move Terence and keep him comfortable, but that paramedics were “very busy”.
It was not until she told the operator he was struggling to breath they dispatched an ambulance to the scene.
Paula said: “He’s a pensioner, he’s a vulnerable person, it’s shocking they didn’t consider him a priority.
“My dad was on the concrete ground, freezing cold with some blankets from a shop over the road. There was blood everywhere and he was freezing.
“I know hospitals are stupidly busy, but they could have got an ambulance there and he should have been prioritised.
“He said to me he thought he was going to die and started screaming which really upset me.
“I was worried the worst would happened. I thought I was going to lose my dad.
“If I hadn’t told them he wasn’t breathing properly, they wouldn’t have come.
“I rang the ambulance to see if they had got there, but they hadn’t even sent one out.
“I rang the ambulance again and said he’s freezing cold, but they just said ‘we’re really busy at the minute, if he gets any worse call us back’.
“Twenty minutes later I rang back and said his head is full of blood, he’s breathing but he’s going a bit pale.”
An ambulance was finally dispatched when Paula told the operator her dad was struggling to breath.
He was taken to hospital, where he stayed for almost a week before being released on Monday, October 7, after tests and observation.
A spokesman for the North West Ambulance Service said: “At 5.04pm we received a 999 call for a man who had fallen.
“Based on the information given by the caller it was prioritised as requiring a category three response which we aim to get to within two hours.
“Following further calls regarding a change to the patient’s condition, the call was upgraded to a category one at 6.59pm and we arrived on scene at 7.07pm.
“We always try to get to patients as quickly as we can but we have to prioritise those in an immediately life-threatening condition in order to get them the help they need as soon as possible.
“We are sorry for any distress caused and would encourage the patient or a family member to contact us directly so we can discuss this with them in more detail. We sincerely hope he is recovering well.”