Friday, 27 November 2020

Residents want sign after ambulance is lost on 999 call

A DISABLED man is campaigning for a sign at a retirement village in Henley after an ambulance got lost trying

A DISABLED man is campaigning for a sign at a retirement village in Henley after an ambulance got lost trying to find him when he fell ill.

Christopher Peers, 80, says it was just the latest example of people such as delivery drivers, tradesmen and residents’ friends getting lost trying to find Bowling Court, off Fair Mile.

He collapsed and passed out in a chair at a meeting of the residents’ association.

A 999 call was made and an ambulance was dispatched by South Central Ambulance Service but it took 17 minutes to arrive.

The driver had struggled to find the entrance to the private drive because his vehicle’s satellite navigation system took him to Luker Avenue nearby.

Mr Peers, who suffers from high blood pressure and can only walk with a frame, has since fully recovered.

The former showbusiness agent said the incident showed why a sign was needed in addition to the two small plaques on pillars outside the estate.

He said: “At the meeting I had just got up to say ‘and another thing’ when I collapsed into my chair.

“The manager phoned and got hold of the ambulance. When the paramedics arrived they gave me an ECG and so on and by this time I was coming to and began to feel a bit better and we started to joke.

“I said ‘by the way, did you have any difficulty in finding us?’ and they apologised for taking so long because they couldn’t find it to begin with. I thought to myself that it was a great way to prove a point.”

Mr Peers, who has spinal sclerosis, began his campaign after a friend nearly had a car accident outside the entrance.

“A car nearly went straight up his backside as he was slowing down to see the entrance,” he said. “I have now taken it on myself to get something done on the residents’ behalf.

“This place has its own postcode. If you Google it, it is shown as a road but there is no signpost to it. We need to have it clearly marked.

“What I can’t understand is why we can’t have a sign like they do on Fair Mile Court down the road.”

Mr Peers, who says he would be willing to pay for a sign himself, is supported by his neighbours.

Paula Silver said: “When people come to visit I have to tell them how to get into Bowling Court. People go past it and have to phone me. A sign can’t cost that much.” Tricia Waddington, who has lived at Bowling Court for six months, said: “When an ambulance can’t get there it speaks for itself. I have overshot the entrance myself. It is not easy to find and cars build up behind you.”

Inge Mikkelson, 67, said: “I want a sign outside, not anything big just so you can see ‘Bowling Court’.

“It is always quite difficult for people to find and you have to give a very long-winded description. If an ambulance can’t find us then it’s pretty bad. It could be dangerous one day.”

Dorothy Williams, who has lived at Bowling Court for three years, said: “A number of my visitors have driven past and had to do a U-turn.”

Ida Meijel added: “Nobody knows where the entrance is. I have only been here two-and-a-half months but I lived on the Fair Mile for 20 years and I never knew Bowling Court existed.”

The manager of the retirement village, which is owned by Housing 21, says it could not put a sign on the grass verge outside because it belongs to the town council and the outer wall is listed, so only a certain number of small signs is allowed.

He said: “When Mr Peers collapsed the paramedics who came said they had missed the entrance.Some time ago the Post Office changed our postcode and knocked Fair Mile off the address so everybody with a satnav ends up in Luker Avenue now.”

Town councillor David Nimmo Smith said he sympathised with Mr Peers but claimed better signage should have been thought of when the development was built about 30 years ago.

He said: “I can try to get agreement from the council for locating better signage but it will probably need to be at the cost of Bowling Court. We need an official approach — preferably from the management company or residents’ association — with a plan of where they would prefer the sign.”

Town clerk Mike Kennedy said an application for a sign on the grass verge would be looked on “favourably” by the council.

A spokeswoman for Housing 21 said: “The safety and wellbeing of residents is of prime importance and we understand their concern. We plan to look further into this with a view to improving the signage.”

A spokeswoman for South Central Ambulance Service confirmed its vehicle took 17 minutes to arrive.

She said: “We would like to apologise to the patient for the slight delay in arriving on scene and wish him a speedy recovery.

“We would encourage appropriate signage that is clearly visible from the road day and night. This ensures that our crews are able to attend as quickly as possible.”

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