A grieving family has thanked firemen who helped grant a dying mother’s last wish when the ambulance service couldn’t help.
Julie Shippey, 85, suffered from heart failure and was deteriorating fast.
Her disabled daughter Maureen feared she wouldn’t be able to see her for one last time because she couldn’t climb the 14 steps to her mum’s flat on Skinner Street.
So, the family asked for a special ambulance to take Julie from the flat to Maureen’s bungalow on St Hilda’s Gardens where she would see out her final days.
However, despite the end of life care package that had been put in place and a request from the family doctor and district nursing team, the distressed family were told they couldn’t have the ambulance due to cost cuts.
So a nurse asked the firemen on duty at Whitby last Wednesday if they could help.
Using one of Maureen’s wheelchairs and some scarves they secured Julie in the chair and carried her down the steps and into a taxi with disabled access that the family ordered and paid for themselves.
Julie, who used to own the Star cafe on the Pier, died two days later on Friday January 23. Her other daughter Jeana told the Gazette: “She had severe heart failure and didn’t want to go to hospital and had nurses going in but on the Wednesday she got worse. We were told she could die at any time.
“She knew the only way she was going to see her daughter again was to get to her house. I begged her ‘please Mum’ and she said ‘how do I get there?’. I said I would sort it, thinking it was simple.
“We couldn’t get the ambulance but offered to pay for it but said they couldn’t transport her from her home to another address. One of the nurses asked the firemen and they said they would help us.
“They brought her down the stairs, she was dying and I can’t imagine what that was like. She was in a lot of pain but the firemen were absolutely excellent.”
Jeana said the doctors and district nurses who were delivering the end of life care to her mum had been ‘a rock’ to the family and they were eternally grateful for the way they had looked after their mum but they were devastated about the trauma Julie would have suffered.
She added: “We are all upset obviously but what has made it worse has been the struggle. My mum has worked all her life until retirement, she has never claimed anything other than her pension and they only thing we wanted was an ambulance.”
Chris Watson, the watch manager at Whitby Fire Station said: “The nurses came and said they were struggling to move the lady and was there any chance we could help.
“It came in as a bit of a favour and we didn’t know the circumstances of the situation but always try to help - it is part of the job. They brought us some biscuits afterwards which are always welcome but I am pleased that we were able to help.”
The Gazette asked Yorkshire Ambulance Service for a comment but at the time of going to press no response had been received.