Aussie dad, 36, dies after ambulance arrives too late

A new father has died after waiting for an ambulance that arrived too late to take him to hospital.

Danny Vasiljevic, 36, was at Arena Shopping Centre in Officer, southeast of Melbourne, on September 23 when he began experiencing severe chest pains.

He had his 10-month-old daughter in the back of his car and was waiting for an ambulance when his partner, Katrina Christou, arrived to be by his side.

When the ambulance didn't come, she was forced to drive her husband to hospital herself.

Mr Vasiljevic phoned triple-0 at 7.02pm complaining of chest pain and breathing difficulties, but the ambulance didn’t arrive until 22 minutes later.

By that time, Ms Christou had already located him, rushed him to hospital herself and had cancelled the ambulance.

Danny Vasiljevic, 36, and his partner Katrina Christou pose with their daughter and their dogs at the beach.
Danny Vasiljevic, 36, was suffering from severe chest pains when he called an ambulance on September 23. Source: GoFundMe/Facebook

Mr Vasiljevic fell unconscious and died shortly after arriving at the hospital – leaving his family shattered.

“He’s been robbed of life in the most unfair way,” Ms Christou told the Herald Sun.

“My daughter’s going to grow up without a dad, and I’m going to be on my own without my main support.

“I just feel like the whole system let him down incredibly; let him down, let his family down.

“Waiting for that long and needing to be driven to the hospital for something like that I think is ridiculous.”

She claimed that no one stayed on the phone with her partner and no one called him back, saying he was “left to fend for himself for 22 minutes”.

“It’s not good enough,” she said.

An ambulance is parked in front of the Emergency & Trauma service at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Ambulance Victoria is conducting a review into Danny Vasiljevic’s death. Source: Getty/File

Ambulance Victoria said they are now launching a review into Mr Vasiljevic’s death.

“We extend our deepest condolences to Danny’s family and loved ones at this extremely difficult time,” a spokesperson told the Herald.

“We are currently undertaking a review of the incident and will reach out to the family to better understand the circumstances and discuss our response.”

In their 2020-2021 Annual Report, Ambulance Victoria said they responded to 77.2 per cent of Code 1 cases within 15 minutes, while the state average was 12.7 minutes.

Yahoo News Australia has contacted Ambulance Victoria for comment.

GoFundMe raises more than $50,000 for family

A GoFundMe page for the family set up several days after Mr Vasiljevic’s death has raised more than $57,000, an amount that left Ms Christou “overwhelmed”.

“The love that has been felt around Ariana and myself through the worst time in our life is really heart-warming,” she wrote on Facebook.

“Danny would be looking down and be so proud and thankful to all his friends and family for being there for us, and truly making a difference in how his family have dealt with this heartbreak.

“I can't say thank you enough. I can't say I appreciate you all enough.”

33 Victorians died while waiting for an ambulance

Last month, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews issued an apology to the families of 33 people who died while waiting for an ambulance during the Covid pandemic.

An independent review found 40 potential adverse events as the state’s triple-0 call service was overloaded with calls for help.

Of those 40 cases, 33 Victorians died.

The Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA), who runs the emergency call service, aims to answer calls within 5 seconds.

During the pandemic, less than 70 per cent of calls were answered within that timeframe.

Tony Pearce, the state’s inspector general for emergency management, found that in some cases triple-0 calls were on hold for 15 minutes or more.

The review found ESTA “simply did not have sufficient ambulance call-takers to meet incredible demand” and lacked the funding to hire more staff.

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