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August 21, 2017

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Family claims ambulance delay killed senior citizen

The China Post news staff--The family members of a Kaohsiung senior citizen who died yesterday accused the Fire Bureau under the Kaohsiung City Government of failing to dispatch an ambulance in time to send the victim to hospital, claiming they will seek financial compensation.

The man, surnamed Shih, 83, had his head hit after falling to the ground in the kitchen of his residence in Fengshan District of Kaohsiung on the morning of Sept. 2. His family members called the Fire Bureau to dispatch an ambulance to rush Shih to a nearby hospital.

Two minutes after the bureau received the call, an ambulance appeared near the residence of Shih, but a man, 51 and surnamed Hsiao suddenly showed up to stop the ambulance and asked ambulance staff to rush him to the hospital to treat his serious headache. The staff asked Hsiao some questions for identification, and Hsaio answered "yes" to all the questions. As a result, Hsiao was soon sent to the Kaohsiung Armed Forces General Hospital.

After waiting for 20 minutes, Shih's family members called the Fire Bureau again, yet to find that the ambulance dispatched earlier had transported the wrong patient. The bureau immediately dispatched another ambulance to send Shih to the Kaohsiung Chang Gung Medical Foundation for emergency medical treatment.

Shih, then on a Glasgow coma scale of 3, was found suffering intracerebral hemorrhage, and died five days after reaching the hospital.

Shih's family members charge that the Fire Bureau cannot shun the responsibility for poor ambulance dispatching operation, stressing that they will seek national compensation for Shih's death.

In response, spokesman Lee Ching-hsiu of the Fire Bureau said that the bureau did dispatch an ambulance immediately after receiving the call from Shih's family members. "But it's difficult to check the residence plate number in an old military community, and a man surnamed Hsiao suddenly appeared to intercept the ambulance and recklessly answered 'yes' to ambulance staff's questions for identification, eventually making the ambulance carry the wrong patient," Lee said.

He continued that the Fire Bureau had sent representatives to make explanations to Shih's family members, but had yet to obtain their understanding.

The Fire Bureau will reveal the entire truth of the event if the Shih's family members want to seek national compensation, Lee promised.

The bureau will also move to take effective countermeasures to prevent recurrence of similar undesirable incidents.

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