Speakers Corner

HSE “Emergency Services” Unable to Respond to Epilepsy Emergencies

01 February 2015
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By Tom O'Connor, Cork

Our son, Kieran, was 32 when he died last April. Unfortunately, he had a status epilepticus seizure and we were living in Ireland.

When he was 8 years old and we were living in the U.S., he also had a status epilepticus seizure. He survived then, because the ambulance arrived rapidly and had the necessary drugs to control the seizure.

This time the ambulance came after nearly 28 minutes, which was too late to save him. They also didn't carry the drugs necessary to control the seizure.

Because Kieran had no apparent uncontrolled episodes of significant seizures and was within his therapeutic range medication-wise (having the very occasional 'petit mal' seizures), he was not considered medically "at risk" by healthcare professionals.

His death was senseless. He died because the "Emergency Services" are not "on call" waiting for an emergency after 8 pm at night, but are on "standby", therefore adding very precious minutes to their response time. A further contribution was the non-availability of appropriate drugs for treatment. Another factor is the lack of emergency vehicles (Northern Ireland has 3 times the number of new, reliable ambulances than the Republic. We have 4 times the population).

If we had called the local "South Doc" service instead of the "Emergency Service", our son would be with us today.

Epilepsy kills and it kills unpredictably!

We have a health system which cannot remotely protect our health, it is not responsive to the needs of the people needing assistance, it is overly bloated with innumerable layers of senior managers who spend time removing the very frontline workers needed to properly attend to people's needs, while at the same time figuring how they can increase their bonuses while depriving the patient of necessary lifesaving care. Simply put, I believe our health system is allowing people to die unnecessarily.

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