Route barred for ambulance crew

09:25 29 January 2013

Woodbury Common

Woodbury Common

Archant

A Yettington father is urging commons landowners to change the locking system on barriers after it took ambulance crews an hour to reach his injured daughter.

East Budleigh parish councillor Peter Barnard, of Shortlands, told The Journal that, in September, his 29-year-old daughter, Samantha, fell off her horse near Hayes Wood on Woodbury Common.

She fell on all fours and suffered two broken wrists and needed 12 stitches on her right knee.

Although ambulance crews responded quickly, he said they struggled to get past a barrier.

Barriers have been put up by Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) to stop motorists using the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths for off-road driving.

Eventually, paramedics had to use a quad-bike to reach Samantha before she was taken to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital for treatment.

Councillor Barnard said that he was ‘frustrated’ because the fire service had keys to all the barriers, but ambulance crews do not.

He said that although the two services in Exmouth have their headquarters side-by-side at the CDE-owned Liverton Business Park, there was no guarantee that a responding ambulance would come from Exmouth.

He said: “I think it is an important issue, but nobody seems to think there is a problem. The air ambulance isn’t always available.

“The commons are used by cyclists, horseriders and walkers.

“What happens if someone has a serious spinal or neck injury? Somebody could die.

“Maybe if the locks were combination locks and the emergency services had the numbers. There just has to be a better way to do it.”

The parish council said they had been trying to find a solution since September.

But a spokesman for Clinton Devon Estates, said: “CDE does have an emergency plan in place and provides keys to the emergency services and other individuals and organisations which need access.

“Our team of commons wardens are on call to assist with emergencies such as this and including that of Councillor Barnard’s daughter, but we were not contacted on this occasion. Neither has CDE been contacted by the South West Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

“But we will be happy to provide them with keys if they are needed.”

Samantha added: “I want to thank the gentleman who helped me. I don’t know his name but I think he was a retired Royal Marine.

“Whoever you are, thank you.”

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