South Wales Police called to 30 medical emergencies when Ambulance Service was unavailable
SLASHED wrists and overdoses were among some of the medical emergencies police dealt with last year.
Between November 2011 and October 2012, South Wales Police were called out to 30 incidents because the Welsh Ambulance Service was unavailable — 13 were taken to hospital.
Welsh Conservatives obtained the figures following a Freedom of Information request.
Dyfed-Powys Police did not disclose any details.
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Examples include police officers attending a drug overdose in Swansea in August, who then took the patient to hospital. In October, officers attended the scene of an elderly man who had collapsed following a stroke in Port Talbot. He was conveyed to hospital by family after 1 hour 40 minutes.
Shadow Minister for Health Darren Millar said: "While the invaluable assistance of the police should be applauded loudly, it remains extremely troubling that their help is so frequently required.
"The unavailability of an ambulance in any medical emergency is worrying.
"It cannot be right that police officers, no matter how well-trained in first aid skills, are having to transfer patients to hospitals due to the lack of a timely ambulance response.
"The Health Minister must ensure that ambulances are able to get to emergencies on time and her review of the service must look at the whole emergency care pathway to ensure that this is the case.
"Too many ambulances are spending too long stacked up outside our A&E departments instead of responding to emergency calls."
South Wales Police's Acting Assistant Chief Constable Liane James said officers assisted the ambulance service when someone's life was at risk and urgent medical attention was required.
"Our priority is to protect life and property and to keep South Wales safe which we do in partnership with the other emergency services.
"Our officers are trained in first aid and regularly provide medical assistance at the scene of an incident. We work together in a joint emergency services group to ensure a joined up 999 service for our communities. This is regularly reviewed to improve performance."
The Welsh Ambulance Service said: "The Welsh Ambulance Service is working in partnership with police forces across Wales to reduce incidences where our emergency colleagues are awaiting an ambulance response.
"Both WAS and all four police forces are in frequent contact and are building on the close relationship in support of each other and their staff."