Family asks why ambulance was sent from distant source

by Sylvia Pownall
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The family of a Balbriggan man who died suddenly after a night out have questioned why an ambulance was dispatched from 20 miles away instead of the local depot.

Leonard Farrell (40) died after attending a social gathering in a friend’s ‘man cave’ on Saturday, August 20, 2016 his inquest heard.

As he arrived home he fell and cut his head and emergency services were called. A second call was made when he stopped breathing.

The man’s sister – a nurse – began cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. She said the ambulance seemed to take “a long time”.

A Dublin Fire Brigade crew from Kilbarrack was notified at 4.56am and arrived at the scene at 5.20am. Mr Farrell’s brother described this as “odd”.

“It’s odd that they would send someone from 20 miles away as oppose to four miles away in Balbriggan,” Larry Farrell said.

The coroner told the court the ambulance was dispatched initially to treat a fall with a head injury but after the second call the priority level was elevated.

Mr Farrell, who had just been made manager of a local underage football team, ate dinner before heading to the gathering with his brother-in-law, Mark Ryan.

They went to a friend’s house 10km away, where the man-cave was set up as a bar with a keg of alcohol, the court heard.

“It was set up like a full bar; we paid for our drinks. Lenny had a good bit more than I had; he was drunk,” Mark Ryan said.

Family members said the man’s booze habits had become a concern and he was prone to binge drinking.

The pair returned home in a taxi to Balrothery some time after 3am and Mr Farrell stumbled and fell, cutting his head.

Attempts to resuscitate him failed and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
A post-mortem report gave the cause of death as asphyxia due to aspiration of gastric contents as a result of acute alcohol intoxication.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned a verdict of misadventure and said the man was inebriated to the point where he was vulnerable.

She said: “His alcohol level was so high he seems to have lost his gag reflex. If you are intoxicated you are more inclined to vomit.

“Tragically, when he did get sick, he wasn’t in a position to protect his airway.”

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