As Andrew Roskelly lay on a hospital bed, thrashing about and gasping for breath after a heart attack, his wife Jannah turned to paramedic Alan Crompton and warned him of one problem with the ambulance service.
Mrs Roskelly thought there had been an error because the police had told an ambulance crew that her husband was dying, she said. Mr Roskelly was already unconscious.
“He’d just had a heart attack and he looked as though he was dying,” Mrs Roskelly said. “He was lying in bed, in cardiac arrest, and the police had called an ambulance. I’d said: ‘No, he’s going to be ok’.” Mr Roskelly was one of the first two to arrive at a harrowing scene two weeks ago. He described sitting in a hallway while police stood on the door to demand he step outside.
Mr Roskelly’s wife, from Benfleet, Essex, gave birth to another daughter and remained with her husband after he died – “just keeping him warm, holding him, giving him morphine and trying to keep him awake”, she said.
Mrs Roskelly, 34, a maths teacher, told the Guardian: “It’s a nightmare. It’s one of those things I think people die over, waiting. I’m gutted because he was one of the best men I’d ever met. This to me, now it’s real, is the reality.”
Mr Roskelly, 41, an assistant borough manager at South Essex fire and rescue, had been at a champagne party before going for the drive to work on Monday afternoon. While his colleagues were out working, he realised he was feeling ill. He knew he was going to die, but he said he never expected to be taken to hospital by ambulance.
The experience has left Mrs Roskelly and their six-year-old son Billy, traumatised. She said: “I just think it’s a shocking example of how that service hasn’t got the money.
“After he’s gone, I can see that sort of emergency situation again and I don’t want it to happen to someone else.”
Anthony Daniels, chief executive of South Essex fire and rescue, apologised, but said: “It is tragic. There’s no justification for that at all, but this is a consequence of an increasingly stressful environment, which must be making it difficult for the emergency services in Essex.”
A murder investigation is under way after Mr Roskelly was beaten to death. Former workmates said he had gone to work drunk, his chivalry gone, and he had told his superiors he would have “taken care of” them. Yesterday it emerged that one of the paramedics who went to the Clacton mortuary to take his body home did not have the clinical training to carry out the final rites on a cardiac arrest victim.
After the breakdown of his marriage, Mr Roskelly was making plans to move to Spain with his 10-year-old son Jay, who told his mother that he saw his father as an “uncle”.