DESPITE the valiant resuscitation efforts of Bob Little and several of his staff, a man who suffered a heart attack on the doorstep of Spar Maclean last Friday died before paramedics got to the scene at least 17 minutes after being called.
With the ambulance station only five minutes walk away and Maclean hospital six minutes by foot, Mr Little said the slow response served as a dire warning of the level of service provided by the Ambulance Service to the Lower Clarence.
As the man gingerly approached the entrance to Mr Little's store about 9.45am Wayne Mewis saw that the man was not in a good way and raised the alarm when he collapsed on a bench outside the shop.
"Wayne said he looked a bit funny when he was walking up to the shop and he sat down on a seat outside the shop and collapsed," Mr Little said.
"He wasn't breathing and didn't have a pulse."
Immediately Mr Mewis and fellow staff member Jessica Hackfath rushed to the man's aid and began performing CPR while other staff called 000 requesting an ambulance.
Bystanders milled around the collapsed man as the Spar staff worked frantically trying to revive him.
After about 10 minutes of resuscitation Mr Little said he took over from Ms Hackfath who was doing cardiac compressions on the man.
"I was told by staff that customers had made comment that they saw me doing CPR on their way into the shop and on their way out I was still doing it and they were surprised that the ambulance wasn't there at that stage."
Mr Little said he was told the local man, Michael Triggel, had experienced several heart attacks prior to that which claimed his life.
Mr Little praised the "outstanding" efforts of his staff.
"They got straight in and did a very very good job," he said.
Mr Little said the paramedics who attended said there were two ambulances on duty in the Lower Clarence.
One ambulance was at the furthest extremity of Yamba, and the other was doing a patient transfer to Grafton.
Mr Little questioned how the Ambulance Service allow highly skilled paramedics to transport patients, leaving the health and wellbeing of the population of the Lower Clarence in the hands of amateur lifesavers like himself and his staff.
An Ambulance Service spokesperson said the initial phone call was received at 9.57am.
"The closest available emergency ambulance was assigned at 10 am from Yamba Ambulance Station and arrived on scene at 10.14 am," the spokesperson said.