Rural Response

Lawsuit claims NM ambulance delay caused man’s death

The lawsuit said the man died from a stroke after the ambulance took 45 minutes to arrive, but officials said the ambulance took less than half that time

Oct 13, 2017

By EMS1 Staff

SANTA FE, N.M. ― A lawsuit claims a man died from a stroke after an ambulance took 45 minutes to arrive on scene, despite a claim by officials that said they arrived in half that time.

Albuquerque Journal reported that an ambulance was dispatched to Lawrence Quintana’s residence on Oct. 7, 2015, according to a wrongful death suit. The suit claims the first ambulance was not able to find the home, but the second one located it around 45 minutes after the 911 call.

The suit said the ambulance alerted Alta Vista Regional Hospital in Las Vegas, which diverted the ambulance to another hospital about 70 miles away in Santa Fe. Three hours after the initial 911 call, Quintana arrived at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, and died five days after being admitted.

“Due to the delay in obtaining hospital treatment, Mr. Quintana was unable to recover from the medical insult to his brain and body,” the suit said.

The lawsuit includes the city of Las Vegas, San Miguel County, Superior Ambulance, Alta Vista and the state Department of Public Safety as defendants.

Superior Ambulance CEO Chris Archuleta said there is no proof that the first ambulance could not find the home, and that it arrived in about 20 minutes.

“We’re still trying to research a first ambulance, but the second ambulance responded within the time limit,” Archuleta said. “We don’t even know if there was a first ambulance, and it doesn’t appear that they had an issue finding the patient’s residence.”

San Miguel County Commissioner Rock Ulibarri said not only are long response times typical in the county, but it’s also common for patients to be turned away from Alta Vista. He said the commission may open a county-funded hospital that would provide residents with access to more medical services, but that plan will have to wait until voters can decide on it Nov. 2018.

“I think that’s the biggest way to solve some of our biggest problems here,” Ulibarri said.