The retired Garda, 75, who suffered a brain hemorrhage after a fall, waited almost two hours for the ambulance

A retired Kerry Garda who died after an accidental fall during a visit to a Cork harbor island had to wait for an ambulance for almost two hours.

The Cork Medical Examiner’s inquest found that Edmond Horgan, 75, a retired Garda from Killarney, accidentally fell and hit his head while visiting the Spike Island attraction last summer – but two ambulances were dispatched to rescue his case were subsequently diverted to take care of him
with other incidents that are of higher priority.

Coroner Philip Comyn has been told Mr Horgan died on 8 July 2021 at Cork University Hospital (CUH).

He died just 24 hours after being rushed to CUH by ambulance. The inquest found that Mr Horgan, who was taking anticoagulant medication, lost his footing while walking on a ferry gangway on July 7, fell and hit his head.

He suffered a brain hemorrhage.

The deputy state pathologist Dr. Margaret Bolster said it was not a fractured skull.

However, Mr Horgan had suffered a subdural hemorrhage which resulted in a cerebral hemorrhage.

dr Bolster decided the cause of death was a traumatic subdural hemorrhage resulting in a lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain as a result of a fall.

The pathologist said that people taking anticoagulant drugs may bleed faster than other patients.

She also pointed out that the mortality rate for people who take such drugs and are older than 75 years is 60 percent.

dr Bolster said she could not comment on the original classification of Mr Horgan’s case as non-life threatening.

She pointed out that in general it is better for patients to get to a hospital as soon as possible.

Mr Comyn was told that at 11.32am on 7 July the National Ambulance Service Control Center received the call about Mr Horgan’s fall and injury.

Two ambulances that had been dispatched to deal with the incident were moved to other higher priority locations.

HSE Advanced Paramedic, James O’Brien, and a colleague had taken a patient to Mercy University Hospital (MUH) and were charged with Mr Horgan’s incident at 12.47pm – arriving in Cobh at 1.22pm.

Mr Horgan was conscious when they arrived and they ran various emergency tests before leaving for CUH at 1.59pm.

When they took Mr Horgan to the hospital, he suddenly became unwell and lost consciousness.

A full resuscitation team was on standby when the ambulance arrived after Mr O’Brien suggested the pensioner may have suffered a brain haemorrhage.

Despite desperate efforts to help the retired Garda, he had suffered a significant brain hemorrhage and died 24 hours later.

Mr O’Brien said he did not know how many other ambulances had previously been allocated to the Spike Island incident but had been diverted to another location.

He said such diversions can occur when another case is considered to be of higher clinical priority.

The inquiry told the National Ambulance Service (NAS): “Completely understaffed – you can be lucky or unlucky”.

The coroner was told that any issue as to why it took almost two hours for an ambulance to get to the scene was something only NAS senior management could address.

Mr Comyn heard that although Mr Horgan briefly lost consciousness after his fall, he was lucid and at a good level of consciousness when he was treated by Spike Island staff at the scene – and was also lucid when paramedics arrived.

Mr Horgan previously took the advice of Spike Island staff to return to Cobh after his fall.

The call to alert the NAS to the incident was made at 11:29 am.

The ambulance – the third person on duty – arrived an hour and fifty minutes later.

Mr Comyn said the reasons for the two previous ambulance diversions were unknown.

The coroner said the incident that led to the tragedy was an accidental fall.

As a consequence, he issued a verdict of accidental death.

The coroner found that Mr Horgan’s deterioration was very sudden and rapid and his condition became critical by the time the ambulance was minutes from CUH. The retired Garda, 75, who suffered a brain hemorrhage after a fall, waited almost two hours for the ambulance

Fry Electronics Team

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