Ambulance man sues over injury sustained saving life

Mr De Lara saved a patient from a 'cardiac arrest
Mr De Lara saved a patient from a 'cardiac arrest
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AN ambulance technician who was injured while trying to move an elderly patient whose life he had just saved from a cardiac arrest is suing his bosses for £60,000.

Paul De Lara was off work for a total of eight months and had to walk on crutches for over a year after badly injuring his ankle in an accident caused by the patient’s stairlift.

The 57-year-old, who has worked for the Scottish Ambulance Service for more than three decades, launched the court action against his employers after alleging they were at fault.

The move is the second case to be brought against the service recently after paramedic Lynn Sutherland lodged a £100,000 claim over being violently attacked by a teenage patient.

Mr De Lara’s case, which was called at the Court of Session in Edinburgh last week, involved a midnight dash to the home of an elderly patient who had suffered a cardiac arrest.

Mr De Lara and his colleague managed to resuscitate the patient, who was in the upstairs bedroom, and urgently needed to move the victim to hospital.

The court heard that the stairway of the home was narrow and had a tight bend, while a stairlift had also been fitted to the wall.

Lawyers for Mr De Lara, who lives in Armadale, West Lothian, said that the stairlift was a “significant obstacle to manoeuvring the patient”, and was stuck in a position half-way up the stairway.

A second ambulance crew was called to help and brought a special chair to move the patient, a practice Mr De Lara said he was never trained in.

The court heard that Mr De Lara was needed to lift the chair over the stairlift and went “heavily” over his ankle.

Mr De Lara was taken to St John’s Hospital in Livingston where X-rays revealed he had suffered a ruptured ligament. Doctors put him on anti-inflammatory injections and steroids following the accident, which took place on March 23, 2008, and he later underwent 53 physiotherapy treatments as part of his recovery.

But the court heard that Mr De Lara has been left unable to enjoy his hobbies of running, walking and going to the gym as a result of his injury.

He only returned to full work duties in July 2010 after suffering lost earnings and overtime.

But lawyers for the ambulance service are contesting the case, claiming their employee had given “several versions of how the accident occurred”.

They also contend Mr De Lara was trained in how to carry out a risk assessment, and knew to call for assistance if required.

Allan McDougall Solicitors, the firm representing Mr De Lara, said it had no-one available to comment on the case.

An ambulance service spokesman said it could not comment on an ongoing legal matter.

Last month, the News reported that Ms Sutherland was suing ambulance bosses after being punched and kicked by Grahame Donnelly, 16, after she had raced to his home amid fears he had taken an overdose.