Broken leg stretched resources

21:01, Jun 23 2014

St John's stretched paramedic resources mean it cannot be present at every sports game, says Marlborough's chief paramedic Murray Neal.

But resources would be made available if sports clubs and schools carried out a risk assessment ahead of games and found a paramedic or first aider presence was necessary.

Captain of the Marlborough Boys' College First XV Zac Harrison-Jones broke his left leg during an unluckily timed 2-on-1 tackle during a Press Cup match against Lincoln High School on Saturday. The match took place just 450 metres from the St John ambulance base but it took 30 minutes for paramedics to arrive at the scene according to spectators.

Marlborough Territory manager Murray Neal said at the time of the call a Blenheim ambulance had been dealing with a callout at North Bank Rd.

The second Blenheim ambulance attended Zac Harrison-Jones because of the higher qualifications of the staff and it was faster to get there, Neal said.

A Picton ambulance was subsequently brought in to cover the Blenheim area.


St John could not cover all sports events in Marlborough, Neal said.

"There is so much happening on a Saturday morning, there are hundreds of kids playing netball at Horton Park, football at the A&P showgrounds and rugby at Lansdowne Park, Renwick and Picton. There is absolutely no way we can cover all these events."

It was up to sports organisers to determine a risk plan for games that looked at what resources they required. St John provided cover at a cost if there were resources available, Neal said.

St John would depend on more first aid volunteers coming on board if more games were to be covered, he said.

Neal said the ambulance attended the scene within 19 minutes.

"We will deploy jobs depending on their level of risk. While a traumatic experience like that is horrible when a person is in pain it is not the same as a cardiac arrest.

"We can never have enough resources to make sure we are covered 100 per cent of the time. It is just physically not possible. We can't be everywhere but we try to be. We do a pretty good job covering the Marlborough area."

Zac's mother Vicki Harrison-Jones said she understood paramedics were stretched.

"If people are squawking they should stick their hands in their pockets and donate some money for a third ambulance. If we had been living in Auckland we would probably have waited two hours."

She said it would cost thousands for the school to hire an ambulance and paramedics to attend all games.

Harrison-Jones said she was thankful a St John volunteer and Blenheim GP had been on the sidelines to stabilise her son.

Zac Harrison-Jones suffered an open wound and a compound fracture to his mid shin. He underwent surgery at Wairau Hospital and a rod was inserted into his leg just below the knee. He is due to be discharged today or tomorrow .

The surgeon expects him to be off crutches in about six to eight weeks and following physiotherapy he should be back on the field within eight months.

The 18-year-old was running with the ball when he got tackled.

"I remember hearing a little crack," Zac Harrison-Jones said." I saw my leg at an obscure angle and I knew it was not good. My leg felt like jelly.

"I am really gutted."

The Marlborough Express