A night of violence and disorder involving 40 drunken youths in Diss town centre ended with a man with a serious hand injury being taken to hospital in the back of a car because an ambulance was not available.

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Three people were arrested for public order and criminal damage offences while a fourth man received an on-the-spot fine for being drunk and disorderly after mayhem ensued in the Market Place and surrounding streets following pub closing time at 1.15am on Saturday.

And a 20-year-old man suffered a severed artery after punching a window at Merrick Hill insurance brokers in St Nicholas Street.

He was treated at the scene by two off-duty army paramedics and police officers, but when the police called for an ambulance to attend, they were told all the ambulance crews were tied up at other incidents.

Eventually, he was whisked off to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in the back of a friend’s car after the bleeding was stemmed with bandages supplied by the police.

The incident comes a week after figures showed only 30pc of ambulances were reaching casualties in neighbouring Eye, across the border in Suffolk, within the eight minute target time, while in Stradbroke and Mendham the figures were 31pc and 35pc respectively, well below the 75pc target.

Insp Alice Scott, of Diss police, said officers on patrol arrived in St Nicholas Street just as a call was being made to police about the disturbance and quickly dispersed the group.

She said: “Two officers used the first aid kit from their vehicle to administer emergency first aid to a man who had sustained a serious injury as a result of putting his hand through a glass window. Transport to A&E was subsequently arranged via a third party to ensure he could receive the appropriate medical care.

“Alcohol-fuelled crime and anti-social behaviour of this nature is not tolerated in Diss or anywhere else in Norfolk and we fully intend on taking further action against others involved in this incident as well as assisting to progress banning orders from local licensed premises for those arrested and subsequently charged.”

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said the eight minute target only applied to category Red, or life-threatening incidents.

“Information given by police control indicated that while a 20-year-old man sustained a heavily bleeding arm injury it was not clear whether it was the wrist and no indication given that it could be an artery.

“In line with national standards it was therefore correctly categorised as a green 3 call requiring a 30 minute response to allow immediately life-threatened patients to take priority. However, we were stood down by police before this time.”

Graham Minshull, deputy mayor of Diss, said he was particularly concerned about a lack of first aid kits in the police cars.

He said: “Obviously, it is a concern for the town because we need to make sure the people of Diss are safe. It is concerning that there was no ambulance available on Saturday night. This could have been an elderly person suffering a heart attack, in which case an ambulance response would have been essential.”

However, a Norfolk Police spokesman said the police did have first aid kits in their cars and had bandaged the injury, enabling him to get to hospital, but the severity warranted an ambulance.

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