Drivers die as help takes longer to arrive

Drivers are more likely to die if they crash on Lincolnshire’s rural routes because help takes longer to arrive than it would in a city.

A new Government report reveals there are far more accidents in cities yet the death toll in Lincolnshire topped the UK’s grim statistics for road fatalities in 2011.

Some 47 people lost their lives on Lincolnshire’s roads that year – 0.64 people in every 10,000.

Struggling East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) has the worst 999 and urgent response times out of the 12 ambulance services in the country.

People in Long Sutton and Sutton Bridge are now volunteering to become LIVES first responders for a range of emergencies following a catalogue of cases where ambulances have either taken several hours to arrive or failed to show up.

Twelve people volunteered to start first responder training at a meeting in Sutton Bridge on Tuesday and a further two have joined since a story appeared in our sister paper, The Spalding Guardian.

EMAS has not commented directly on the report’s central claim that people are dying because help takes longer to arrive.

But it has accepted it needs to do something to speed up response times to all manner of emergencies and says a sweeping reorganisation is designed to do that.

EMAS divisional director for Lincolnshire Richard Henderson said: “Numerous factors contribute to tragic deaths on rural roads such as collisions caused by people who inappropriately drive at high speed; under the influence of drugs or alcohol; or by using a mobile phone whilst driving.

“The detail given to us by the person making a 999 call helps determine the type of response and number of ambulances needed to attend an RTC, and our aim is to always get to patients as quickly as possible.

“Our clinicians are highly qualified and skilled to provide treatment and care at the scene of the incident and throughout the journey to a hospital in Lincolnshire or to a Major Trauma Centre for specialist treatment.

“The Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance provides a vital service, transporting people to hospital quickly when the road networks do not make this possible by land ambulance.”

Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership spokesman John Siddle said Lincolnshire Police response to accidents is “timely”.

He said most of the Lincolnshire road network is subject to the national speed limit, 60mph, while almost everywhere in cities like London it’s 30mph.

Statistics show cyclists and pedestrians are the “most vulnerable people” in city accidents while drivers themselves are the most vulnerable in Lincolnshire.

He said there are some county specific problems in Lincolnshire, one of which is its ageing population and the road safety partnership launched a mature driver programme to combat problems such as older motorists driving at inappropriate speeds.

For some it is their first driver training in half a century and many regain lost confidence.

“It’s quite an oddity in any walk of life,” he said. “Unless you are a professional driver, you take your test at 17 and that’s it.”