Woman died from wasp sting after ambulance failed to show up, family says

MORGAN COUNTY, Ga. — She was full of life, always there to help anyone, but in the end, Donna Martin's family says the people she needed most didn't help her.

"It's gut-wrenching. You think about the what ifs," Martin's daughter, Ellen Sims, told Channel 2's Justin Wilfon.

Martin died after she was stung by a wasp in her yard this summer and neither of her county’s ambulances ever came.

Her family faces Thanksgiving without her while demanding changes to protect everyone else.


Her daughter showed Wilfon the swing where Martin was stung by the wasp. She said within minutes Martin suffered a severe allergic reaction and neither of Morgan county’s two ambulances ever came.

“You call with the expectation that someone is going to be coming…and when they don’t, it’s a big game of Russian roulette,” Sims said.

An ambulance from a neighboring county did eventually come...28 minutes after a call to 911. By that point her daughter said Martin was too far gone. She later died at a hospital.

“In 28 minutes, when you’re in cardiac arrest and you’re not breathing and your brain’s not receiving oxygen, you don’t have a chance," Sims said.

We called the ambulance company, National EMS, looking for answers.

“Our job is here to help people in need. That’s what we’re here for and anytime there’s a death, we take that seriously," said Huey Atkins, director of National EMS for Morgan County, told Wilfon.

Atkins said that at the time Martin's emergency took place, both county ambulances were busy on other calls.

"There are occasional cases where every truck to send is busy and immediate resources are not available,” Atkins explained.

National EMS believes it’s a rare problem and would be open to adding a third ambulance, if Morgan County can find the money to pay for it.

Martin's family is now pressuring the county to find the solution that could have saved Martin's life.

“She’s not going to be at the Thanksgiving table. It’s a hard thing to swallow as a family," Sims said.

The Morgan County manager told Wilfon they still have confidence in National, but also said they are constantly reviewing their performance, to see if any additional resources might be needed.

They sent Wilfon the following statement:

"The County reviews National EMS call data on a quarterly basis to ensure compliance within the scope of the contract for services. Public Safety response throughout the County is fluid and with that we cannot predict time or severity of an emergency. What we can do however, is review public safety data on a continuous basis to help determine if additional resources are needed whether temporary or permanent. With the resources the county has, we strive to provide the best service we can to our community."