Six hours from home to hospital
A 75-year-old Russell Island man suffering chest pains and shortness of breath waited nearly six hours to get to a major mainland hospital.
His family have now spoken out in the hope his death, a day later, will put a spotlight on what they say are serious health issues for the residents of Brisbane's closest islands.
George Szabos' family said they called for an ambulance at around 9.30pm on January 19, 2019 on Russell Island in Moreton Bay.
According to Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) logs a paramedic arrived fifteen minutes later but Mr Szabo did not reach Redland Hospital until midnight.
His son Greg Hartay-Szabo said his father then waited another four hours before finally reaching the Princess Alexandra hospital the next day, nearly six hours after he left his home.
Mr Hartay-Szabo said transfer times from the islands to hospital "is a real worry".
"Some say we choose to live on an island," Mr Hartay-Szabo said.
"While that may be true, that by no means would have meant resigning our rights to a fair treatment as any other citizen ... nowhere does choosing to live on an island mean choosing to be treated as a second or third-rate citizen - especially not in a capital precinct within a first-world democratic country."
Mr Hartay-Szabo said according to his mother's testimony when the paramedic arrived "George was choking and gasping for oxygen, even begging for some, before collapsing on the patio".
"My husband got worse and worse," Agnes Szabo to the News.
"He asked for oxygen and was getting short of breath. Then on his way out to the ambulance my husband collapsed on the terrace."
"It was terrible. I never heard a thing that an ambulance could come with just one person. Finally he (the paramedic) dragged my husband to the car and then we had to go around the island to pick up another patient."
Mr Hartay-Szabo said his father did not arrive at the mainland for handover to another ambulance until 11.30pm. He was then transferred to Redland Hospital where he waited until moving to the PA.
Mr Hartay-Szabo questioned why a rescue helicopter was not tasked to help his father who was suffering cardiac and respiratory conditions.
QAS Assistant Commissioner Metro South Local Ambulance Service Network John Hammond said the paramedic was dispatched to the Szabo residence, responding as a Code 1 and arrived within 15 minutes.
He said the advanced care paramedic had all necessary equipment to treat Mr Szabo.
In the paramedic's notes on the call-out Mr Szabo's condition was recorded as "increasing shortness of breath, fully conscious, alert, cold to touch and had not long been in hospital".
Mr Hammond said if the patient had to be dragged, although "it's not very dignifying ... if he collapsed and they had to do that ... sometimes unfortunately that happens".
Mr Hammond said Mr Szabo's ECG recorded an abnormal rhythm.
He said although the call out had been a Code 1, the treating paramedic determined Mr Szabo's condition was stable and he could be transferred to hospital without the use of the helicopter.
"Mr Szabo was treated in an appropriate time frame. We got care to the gentleman in the first instance ... they certainly treated him in the appropriate manner, had the appropriate skills and with current processes."
"There were a number of observations (recorded by the paramedic) and later said he was normal respiratory status .. once they had oxygen to him he settled."