‘Shambles’ as Hartlepool footballer trapped on pitch with broken leg for over an hour

Sunday League footballer Paul Dobbing, who broke his leg five minutes into a match at Grayfields and had to wait more than an hour for an ambulance because the vehicle access gates at the sports complex were locked.
Sunday League footballer Paul Dobbing, who broke his leg five minutes into a match at Grayfields and had to wait more than an hour for an ambulance because the vehicle access gates at the sports complex were locked.

A STRICKEN footballer was left writhing on a pitch in agony for over an hour with a broken leg after a string of blunders left medics unable to reach him.

Paul Dobbing – who described the situation as a “shambles” – was hurt on Sunday morning while playing for Seaton Carew FC in a match against Hartlepool Rovers at Grayfields, off the town’s Jesmond Gardens.

Despite the accident happening close to the University Hospital of Hartlepool, in Holdforth Road, the 26-year-old had to wait for over an hour before an ambulance turned up to take him to the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton.

To add to the debacle, medics were unable to reach Paul after the vehicle access gates to the Hartlepool Borough Council-run sports field were locked and rusted, and there was a delay in finding a keyholder.

The gate was eventually opened but then there was no key to the barriers around the ground, stopping any emergency vehicle getting onto the pitch.

A paramedic driving a car ran onto the pitch and gave the self-employed plumber morphine and gas and air for the pain, while they waited for an hour and 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.

The sportsman was shivering and turning blue so his team mates had to cover him with coats, and laid him on a wooden table from the changing rooms to get him off the cold, wet grass near to the Jesmond Gardens side of the ground.

But in the end four of Paul’s team mates agonisingly lifted him across the pitch, over a four-foot barrier and into the medic’s car, parked in Salisbury Place off Wiltshire Way, so the paramedic could blast the heaters to get him warm while waiting for the ambulance.

Today, just hours after having surgery to insert a metal pin into his snapped shin bone, Paul described the situation as a “shambles” and launched a stinging attack on the authorities.

Paul, from Helmsley Street, off Chester Road, said: “I was lying on the grass freezing cold and in absolute agony for about an hour and 20 minutes.

“A paramedic in a car got there after five minutes but she couldn’t get her car on the pitch because there was no key for the gates or the barriers around the pitch.

“She was radioing through to her colleagues asking if they were coming but they just kept saying ‘negative’.

“The lad who’d opened the changing rooms was running around all over the place looking for a key and they eventually got it open but then she couldn’t get the car through a barricade around the pitch because there was no key for that.

“The lads had covered me in coats and lifted me onto a wooden table so I was off the grass but I was that cold that all my feet were going blue and the paramedic wanted me to get in the back of the car to get warm. So the lads had to carry me over the pitch, lift me over the barrier and laid me in the back of the car until the ambulance came.”

He added: “I’ve never felt nothing like the pain of that before and getting to hospital was just a shambles, a complete joke, and everyone who was with me said the same.”

Seaton FC player manager Mark Loynes said: “It was just ridiculous. No-one should be left like that for so long, especially so close to a hospital. And the situation with the keys and gates needs sorting before there’s a life-threatening emergency.”

A SPOKESWOMAN for the North East Ambulance Service said: “While we did have a paramedic on scene within eight minutes, demand for A&E ambulances was exceptionally high on Sunday, due to a number of potentially life-threatening incidents.

“Unfortunately, this resulted in some patients whose life was not in danger experiencing a longer than normal delay.

“Our paramedic stayed with the patient who had suffered a broken leg throughout, administering appropriate care until an A&E ambulance was available.

“Clearly this must have been a painful and uncomfortable period for the footballer, and we hope he makes a speedy recovery.”

A council spokesman said: “We are aware of the injury sustained by Paul Dobbing on Sunday and wish him a speedy and full recovery.

“We have since been in discussion with the manager of the Seaton team and a league representative to determine why the emergency services had difficulty accessing the site.

“It would appear that attempts to contact the ground staff were only made once the paramedic arrived at the vehicle entrance on Thornhill Gardens. We would always advise that the ground staff are notified immediately after the emergency services are called to ensure that the gate can be opened for emergency vehicles. As soon as contact was made with the member of staff, the gate was opened.

“In terms of emergency vehicles gaining access to the enclosed pitches at Grayfields, this is something that we will be discussing with the ambulance service as we are not aware that this has happened previously.

“In the meantime we will be putting up additional notices in each dressing room to remind teams of the emergency procedures in the event of any future incidents.”

A spokesman for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “In 2007 emergency orthopaedic services were centralised at the University Hospital of North Tees and planned general surgery and orthopaedics was centralised at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, following an acute service review.

“While we appreciate it means some people have further to travel, it does mean that patients who could need an operation after something like a fall are taken directly to the place where the specialist emergency team is ready to receive them.

“We wish Mr Dobbing a full and speedy recovery.”