North East Wales

Fred Pring would have survived if ambulance had come earlier - cardiologist

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Media caption999 wait man 'would have survived'

A man who died waiting for an ambulance would have survived if it had arrived earlier, an inquest has heard.

Fred Pring, 74, died at his home in Mynydd Isa, Flintshire, on 21 March 2013, after waiting 42 minutes for an ambulance.

His wife Joyce called 999 three times but was told the service was "very busy" in her area. She called a fourth time to say they were "too late".

The hearing at Ruthin Coroner's Court has been adjourned until Friday.

Mr Pring's cardiologist had told the hearing that if the ambulance had arrived after the first 999 call Mr Pring would have survived.

The consultant told the coroner he would have expected the ambulance to have arrived in six minutes.

The inquest was told ambulance staff had been very busy that night with one member of staff confronted at knifepoint in a dispute on a call before Mrs Pring's.

Mr Pring, who had been receiving treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, was crying in pain as his wife phoned for help, the hearing was told.

His wife said an ambulance had taken a while to arrive on an earlier occasion and she was worried the same would happen again.

On her third call the operator told her an ambulance crew would be there "as soon as they can" and apologised.

After that call Mrs Pring told the hearing how her husband's condition got worse.

"He just said 'I'm going' and slumped back on the pillow and stopped breathing," she said.

Coroner John Gittins described the 999 calls, which were played to the inquest, as "very distressing and horrific".

In her final call at 01:51 GMT Mrs Pring said: "This is the fourth time I have rung for an ambulance. It is too late now, he's gone, he was 74.

"There's nothing you can do for him now. You are too late, I am sorry."

Considerable delay

Mr Gittins asked Mrs Pring if she wanted him to write a report advising what lessons could be learned from the incident.

She replied: "I would like to think that but I don't believe it. I think that similar incidents will probably happen in future."

Ambulance technician Clwyd Richards told the inquest staff were very busy that night and he had been threatened at knifepoint in a dispute over which hospital to take a patient to on the call before Mrs Pring's.

PC Jonathan Ashton, who arrived at Fred Pring's house shortly after the ambulance service, said Clwyd Richards, said to him: "I feel embarrassed about this, but there's a chance that we could have saved him if we got here earlier."

He said that Clwyd Richards went on to talk about the busy evening they were having, with ambulances "stacked up" at Wrexham Maelor hospital.