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Vet dies waiting for ambulance: Veteran collapsed 500 yards from hospital

Crime scene tape (file photo)
Crime scene tape (file photo)
Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images

As the VA scandal and investigation heightens, the last thing the administration needs is more controversy over a recent death.

A vet collapsed and died waiting for an ambulance for nearly 20 minutes on Thursday in New Mexico. The military veteran passed away in the Albuquerque Veteran Affairs cafeteria, which is only some 500 yards from the emergency room, according to a July 4 Yahoo News report.

An unidentified man fell unconscious Monday in the facility's dining area and workers around him frantically tried to revive him, to no avail. From the onset, 911 operators were called about the fallen veteran. However, it took between 15 and 20 minutes for paramedics to arrive.

Sadly, the vet died while waiting for an ambulance to arrive and take him to the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center. Ironically, the hospital is in another building on the campus.

Many spoke out against the manner in which the veteran died.

There's no reason for it. They have so many workers. They could have put him on the gurney and run faster than that ambulance," said Lorenzo Calbert, 65, a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War.

Sources say the Kirtland Air Force Medical Group personnel responded after the unnamed veteran became unresponsive and provided cardiopulmonary resuscitation (or CPR). But their efforts were in vain; the man died, possibly due to the long wait for medics to arrive on the scene.

There is no mention about the availability of an automated external defibrillator (or AED), which aids victims of ventricular fibrillation and life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia. Experts believe it could have made a difference.

Monday's death of the veteran waiting for an ambulance in New Mexico heightens the angst against the Department of Veterans Affairs. The agency came under fire recently after news broke that scores of military veterans died while waiting for medical care.

Evidence surfaced of potential abuse and negligence at all levels of leadership. The boss of the embattled agency, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, resigned back in March, citing that he didn't want to “become a distraction.”

At this point, it's easy to unleash frustration on the troubled department, but some say it may be an unfair attack because of the manner in which the man died; it’s a rare occurrence.

Still, when a veteran dies after waiting for an ambulance when he could have been carried to help faster, it’s unsettling. And despite the distance, officials say policies were followed. Imagine that?

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