A devastated Donegal family is demanding to know why it took an ambulance almost an hour to attend their mother after she was knocked down.
Maura Porter, 70, was struck by a car outside her home in Carndonagh on December 30th and later died in hospital.
Mrs Porter, from Churchtown, was returning from her local church when she was struck by a car just before 6pm.
The well-known and highly-respected mother-of-two was eventually taken to Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry.
However, despite brave attempts by surgeons to save Mrs Porter, she eventually passed away just before midnight.
Now her family is demanding answers as to why there was not adequate ambulance cover on the night Maura was knocked down.
Speaking from the family home at Churchtown, her son Brendan said Maura may have survived if she had reached a hospital within the ‘golden hour.’
“Medical personnel will tell you that people have a much better chance of survival if they get to hospital within an hour.
“We had to wait for an ambulance to come from Letterkenny for at least fifty minutes. It took another ten minutes to prepare her for transportation to the nearest hospital in Derry in Northern Ireland which was a total transport time of an hour and a half to get mum to hospital.
“All that valuable time was wasted when surgeons could have been battling to save mum.
“We want to know why there is not adequate ambulance cover for a place the size of Inishowen.
“Inishowen is as large as many other counties in Ireland and yet an ambulance had to come all the way from Letterkenny.
“If the accident had happened in Malin Head, it would have taken one and a half hours from Letterkenny Hospital,” he said.
Brendan revealed how an Eircom cable had fallen down across the footpath and road which he claims may have contributed to the sequence of events.
Brendan revealed how he, his sister Davina and dad Neil, stayed with their mum on the road near their home anxiously waiting for the ambulance to arrive as rain poured down.
Brendan got down on his hands and knees and lay in the dirt comforting his dying mother on the cold, wet road.
Three doctors and two nurses arrived at the scene but could not help Maura as she needed the ambulance to transport her for urgent medical attention from surgeons.
“I lay with mum comforting her and praying with her to reassure her. We knew she was in a bad way.
“All I could think of was why the ambulance was coming quicker.”
Brendan said he wanted to pay tribute to the local community who became ‘guardian angels’ on the evening of his mum’s accident.
“All the neighbours came out and stayed on that road while we waited for the ambulance. They were the only consolation we had whilst we waited for the ambulance.
“They were like guardian angels on the road making sure the traffic stopped before the Gardai arrived.
“Everyone has been so kind but we just cannot allow what happened to mum happen again to any other family,” he said.
Maura was buried on Friday after a huge wake which saw hundreds of people call to the family home.
Her heartbroken husband Neil is well-known across Inishowen and Co Donegal following his long service to Donegal County Council and a member of the local fire service.
Brendan said the family never thought his mother would die in this fashion.
He said he and his family are now determined to ensure that no other family have to go through what they are going through.
“Mum and dad have given myself and my sister everything opportunity in life and for her to die like this is just heart-breaking. I never thought she would go like this.
“She was a very intelligent yet modest and humble woman.
“As a family we have no question that mum would have had a chance of survival if an ambulance had have got her to hospital quicker.
“Inishowen is a forgotten region as far as the HSE and the ambulance service is concerned.
“How can anyone justify a fifty minute journey for an ambulance to reach a dying woman in this day and age.
“We loved mum but we know we can never bring her back.
“But if we can improve the ambulance service in Inishowen and ensure no other family has to go through what we are going through then mum will not have died in vain,” he said.
The HSE has admitted there had been a delay in getting an ambulance to Mrs Porter after revealing the local Carndonagh ambulance had been sent to another call-out.
Local TD Charlie McConalogue said he will be seeking answers on the matter.
He added that people should not lay the blame at the door of ambulance personnel but the system they are forced to work in.
“The public appreciates the tough work that all frontline service workers do but that’s a given.
“But people need to have their faith restored in these services,” he said.