Family says woman died from wasp sting after ambulance failed to show up

A family is demanding changes to protect others after a woman died after she was stung by a wasp and neither of her county’s ambulances came when called.

Donna Martin died in her yard over the summer in Madison, Georgia. Her daughter, Ellen Sims, told WSB Martin suffered a severe allergic reaction within minutes. Martin's niece called 911 for an ambulance.

"You call with the expectation that someone is going to be coming and when they don't, it's a big game of Russian roulette," Sims told WSB.

An ambulance from a neighboring county eventually came 28 minutes after the call to 911. By that point, Sims said, Martin was too far gone. She later died at a hospital.

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“In 28 minutes, when you’re in cardiac arrest and you’re not breathing and your brain’s not receiving oxygen, you don’t have a chance,” Sims said.

“Our job is here to help people in need,” Huey Atkins, director of National EMS for Morgan County, told WSB. “That’s what we’re here for and anytime there’s a death, we take that seriously.”

Atkins said that at the time Martin’s emergency took place, both county ambulances were busy on other calls.

"There are occasional instances where everybody is busy and, just, you know -- an immediate truck to send is not available.”

National EMS said those instances are rare and it would be open to adding a third ambulance, if Morgan County can find the money to pay for it.

Martin’s family is now pressuring the county to find a solution that could have saved Martin’s life.

“She’s not going to be at the Thanksgiving table. It’s a hard thing to swallow as a family," Sims said.

Morgan County manager Adam Mestres told WSB the county still has confidence in National, but also said they are constantly reviewing their performance to see if any additional resources might be needed.

"The County reviews National EMS call data on a quarterly basis to ensure compliance within the scope of the contract for services," Mestres said in a statement to WSB. "Public Safety response throughout the County is fluid and with that we cannot predict time or severity of an emergency. What we can do however, is review public safety data on a continuous basis to help determine if additional resources are needed whether temporary or permanent. With the resources the county has, we strive to provide the best service we can to our community."

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