WEEKEND reports of ambulance delays have brought back a nightmare for Heywood father Tim Barclay who lives next door to the town's ambulance station.
The boilermaker decided to have a kick of the footy with his kids at half-time of the Essendon-Carlton AFL qualifying final television coverage mid-afternoon on Sunday, September 11 last year.
But after only a couple of kicks his nine-year-old son landed awkwardly and broke his leg in two places.
Mr Barclay telephoned 000, even though a half-decent drop punt from his front yard would hit the Heywood ambulance station about 50 metres away.
But as the minutes ticked by Mr Barclay realised there was a major problem with the ambulance.
A neighbour decided to duck across to the ambulance station and alerted the officer on duty.
The officer arrived in his ambulance, assessed the situation, administered pain relief and put the boy's leg back in place before his ambulance pager went off.
Mr Barclay said the pager went off about 30 minutes after the first of two calls to 000.
"I was first told that I only made one call, not two, then I was told the ambulance officer was on a meal break, but that wasn't right because he told me he was just watching the footy," he said.
"I just wanted an explanation because you could pick a rock up and throw it to the ambulance station. I did the right thing and rang 000 but in the end a neighbour ran across and got the ambulance officer."
Mr Barclay said eventually he had it confirmed that he had made two calls to 000.
"We live that close the ambulance officer could hear my son screaming and thought it was just kids playing," he said.
"By the time the ambulance officer parked, did an assessment, gave my son the green whistle and put the leg straight it was well over half-an-hour and that's when his pager went off. The ambulance officer also looked into what happened. He said that 90 per cent of the time the system works fine, but I now know the other 10 per cent of the time is the worry."
Mr Barclay said North Warrnambool Eagles footballer Herb Barlow having to be taken to hospital in the back of a private station wagon last Saturday brought memories flooding back.
"We thought about putting my son in a car but his leg was at 90 degrees, it was badly broken.
"The ambulance service system is not good enough, I am still pretty annoyed. People around Heywood found out about the injury and said at least it wouldn't have taken long for an ambulance to arrive. They soon learnt different.
"When people found out what happened they were stunned. The situation was brought up at the Heywood hospital board meeting because the elderly persons' home is next door to the ambulance station and if they have an emergency they don't want to be waiting half an hour someone could die," he said.