Ambulance crew forced to wheel Falkirk pensioner with broken hip over icy path

George Johnston (far right) is among a group of residents demanding new bollards be removed from Breton Court
George Johnston (far right) is among a group of residents demanding new bollards be removed from Breton Court

Elderly residents’ fears over access issues at a block of flats were realised when an ambulance crew had to transport a woman with a broken hip over an icy path.

The incident took place last Thursday morning in Falkirk’s Breton Court, just a week after the council installed five bollards in response to parking complaints — a move which sparked anger among concerned householders.

Residents had warned the local authority the five metal poles would obstruct emergency service vehicles from accessing a front door ramp, which many of those who live in the over-60s accommodation rely on.

Falkirk Council insisted the bollards were installed to stop drivers parking on pavements and in a designated space for emergency vehicles. The local authority has also said such vehicles will be able to access this area via a key which lowers one of the poles.

However, residents’ complaints appeared justified just days after the posts were installed when an ambulance crew was called out to take Margaret Johnston (77) to hospital after she fell and broke her hip.

Mrs Johnston’s worried husband, George, looked on as two crew members pushed his wife along what he describes as “15 yards of ice” in a wheelchair after telling him they were unaware of the need for an access key.

The 76-year-old has echoed his neighbours’ calls for a rethink over the bollards.

He said: “The ambulance crew had to transport my wife across a very icy roadway in a chair whilst carrying their heavy gear. I was worried one of them might slip.

“This situation is not acceptable and in icy conditions is really dangerous for patients and ambulance staff.”

Householders repeated their demands for change when discussing the situation with councillors and housing officers at a meeting of Breton and Corentin Courts Residents’ Association on Monday.

Falkirk South councillor Lorna Binnie, who attended the meeting, has claimed the local authority will now consider either removing or reconfiguring the poles.

She said: “Residents put forward a very good case, explaining how this is possibly a health and safety issue.

“It’s possible and likely some of these bollards will come out or be reconfigured to ensure safety and practicality for residents and the emergency services.”

However, a Falkirk Council spokesman stated there are no immediate plans to do so.

He added: “No concerns or reports have been made to us by the Scottish Ambulance Service in regard to this situation. They have also stated that they have no concerns about the installation of the bollards and that this would not stop them from responding to any call for assistance.

“They have keys to drop the bollard as and when they need to. The initial problem was caused by inconsiderate drivers parking in areas designated for emergency vehicles.”

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman said: “Our patient transport service did attend to a patient at this address at that time, but there were no reported problems.”