Football players in the air trying to mark a ball

Country footballers wait two hours for ambulance to treat suspected spinal injury at East Gippsland

A country Australian rules football match ground to a halt at the weekend after clubs waited nearly two hours for an ambulance to take a player to hospital with suspected a spinal injury.

The senior East Gippsland Football League match between the Lakes Entrance and Orbost-Snowy Rovers football netball clubs took place at Lakes Entrance Recreation Reserve early on Saturday afternoon.

Twenty-two minutes into the first quarter, Orbost-Snowy Rovers full-back Jessie Pescod went up in a marking contest, fell awkwardly, and landed on top of another player, Orbost Snowy Rovers Football Netball Club president Royston Nettleton said.

“Everyone around it could hear the cracks and the force of the impact and he just didn’t move from there,” he said.

Club trainers immediately called Ambulance Victoria and received advice not to move Mr Pescod before further assessment.

“We always fear the worst when it’s back and neck and spinal-related, so everyone was in a bit of shock,” Mr Nettleton said.

Spectators say Mr Pescod (background) fell awkwardly after the marking contest.(Supplied: Ness Hubbard)

The game was at first suspended, and then canceled, after it became clear an ambulance would not be arriving soon.

Ambulance Victoria staff called trainers back half an hour after the first call to try to assess Mr Pescod over the phone.

A mobile intensive care ambulance (MICA) arrived and helped move Mr Pescod inside.

An ambulance outside a hospital
Two off-duty paramedics eventually took the man to hospital in Bairnsdale.(ABC News: Margaret Burin)

Two off-duty paramedics from the netball team then organized to pick up an unstaffed ambulance from the local station and took the man to Bairnsdale hospital.

“We believe it was two hours from the point of the accident to the point where he left the footy,” Mr Nettleton said.

“We’re very thankful for those girls that went and retrieved the ambulance and decided to log on on their day off,” he said.

Mr Pescod was eventually cleared of serious spinal injury but received heavy bruising to his back.

In a statement, an Ambulance Victoria spokesperson confirmed only the MICA paramedic had attended the accident.

“The call came during a busy period for our crews,” the spokesperson said.

“Ambulance resources are assigned based on clinical need and prioritised to the sickest patients, particularly those with life-threatening conditions.”

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