|Victim of ambulance neglect still in coma|
| [30.08.2007, 11:44pm, Thu. GMT]|
|A 37-year-old man who was badly injured in an Oslo park last week, and then denied ambulance transport to a local hospital, remained in a coma Tuesday. His case has sparked a huge debate on latent racism within Norwegian society. Ali Haji Mohamed Farah, a Somalian-Norwegian, initially was the victim of random aggravated assault in Oslo's Sofienberg Park last Monday afternoon. He'd been relaxing in the park with family and friends when someone playing football, also of African descent, allegedly assaulted him after a minor conflict.|
Ali Farah was severely injured, and his condition may have worsened after ethnic Norwegian ambulance drivers arriving at the scene refused to take him to hospital. Witnesses say the ambulance personnel performed only a cursory examination, verbally abused him and left the scene, telling police to take the assault victim to a medical clinic instead.Friends ended up getting Ali Farah into a taxi and took him to the clinic, where doctors determined serious head injuries. He has been in intensive care ever since, and doctors have postponed plans to wake him from a coma in the hopes of preventing permanent brain damage.
The ambulance team's refusal to treat and transport Ali Farah has set off a wave of protests, and embarrassed both the ambulance service, Ullevål Hospital and the police. Officials spent most of last week trying to blame each other, but since have been apologizing and trying to explain what happened.
Commentators, politicians and Ali Farah's family, meanwhile, are raising charges of racism, arguing it's unlikely the ambulance drivers would have abandoned a white Norwegian in need of medical help.
On Tuesday, newspaper VG reported that the ambulance dispatch service had listed Ali Farah as a security risk, and warned the drivers he'd been a troublesome patient on an earlier occasion. If a patient has behaved in a threatening manner, it's recorded in his or her electronic record and that information comes up on future emergency calls.
The warning, however, was made in error and Arild Østergaard of Ullevål told VG that there was no such information in Ali Farah's medical records. He was apparently mixed up with another patient, "and we apologize that incorrect information was released," Østergaard said.
The ambulance team has been suspended and the driver who left Ali Farah, who was supposed to leave this week for UN peacekeeping duties in the former Yugoslavia, was also suspended from military service.
He and his partner are under investigation by the police and health department officials for leaving a patient in need and making racially abusive statements. A man from Ghana, meanwhile, has been arrested, charged with the initial assault on Ali Farah.
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