A toddler apparently choked to death on Monday night in Texas after a man who was trying to help dialed 911 and was told there was not an ambulance available.
Edith Gonzales, who was just 18 months old, died after apparently choking to death in Center, Texas. She was pronounced dead at a San Augustine hospital.
Charles Bush, a local resident, was reportedly at CVS in Center on Monday evening when he noticed the young girl’s grandfather seeking help for his choking granddaughter in a vehicle outside, according to KTRE.
Bush reportedly called 911 but was told there was not an ambulance available as the four units on duty were all on calls. He said a deputy with the Shelby County Sheriff's Office and officers with Center police arrived at CVS and attempted to help the girl breathe.
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The deputy took the toddler in his car and met an ambulance in town. The ambulance arrived at a San Augustine hospital and the girl was pronounced dead a short time later.
Three ambulances were on call Monday night and all were on calls when the 911 call came in, said ACE EMS director Jessie Griffith. Griffith said not having a medical center in Center makes response times on calls even longer than before.
"You make patient contact," Griffith said. "You do some treatment on scene. You transport to say Nacogdoches. You get there, do a patient report and turn the patient over to the nurses and by the time they get back in the county, you are looking at a least an hour and a half."
Shelby Regional Medical Center shut down last month after the owner was unable to meet Medicare and Medicaid guidelines and could not stay open. In a story from July on KTBS, the closing meant the more than 25,000 people who live in Shelby County will have to go to travel to get care and the closest hospital is 22 minutes away in San Augustine.
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Even though Bush is upset that the Shelby Regional Medical Center closed, he knows that the emergency personnel on the scene did all they could for Edith.
"They were performing way outside their pay grade and I don't even blame the local EMS or ambulances. They cover everything," Bush said. "They do a great service to our community, but logistics are that you can only be so many places at one time."