Posted 10 January 2014 - 01:30 PM
Just to speak on the medical side for a moment, declaring death depends on the level of emergency responder and local laws.
There are several levels of EMTs. EMT-basics, the lowest level you'll have on an ambulance, can declare someone dead if it's obvious. These include things like decapitation or lividity (pooling of blood in the lowest parts of the body). If the lady had died recently she wouldn't have had these symptoms and may have been transported.
If they had a paramedic on board (EMT-P, the highest level), they could have done a 12-lead EKG, seen the lack of electrical activity in the heart, and declared her dead on scene. They can also use a few other methods to determine death that a basic can't.
All that said, it's quite possible that the lady was dying but didn't meet the medical definition of death when EMS arrived. It's very possible that the delay neither helped nor hindered what nature intended, but if I was working on that ambulance I would be furious. Not because it would change the outcome necessarily, but because even if a patient is going to die they deserve to be cared for and their families deserve to know that someone is caring for them. Long delays in treatment when you know your loved one is dying is incredibly stressful for the family.
We have fourty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse -- Rudyard Kipling
Develop compassion for your enemies, that is genuine compassion. Limited compassion cannot produce this altruism. -- H. H. the Dalai Lama