Prison officials defended its medical staff against inmate charges of incompetency after an older inmate suffered a severe stroke Sunday.

George Lenaburg, 64, suffered the stroke about 8:50 p.m., but it took prison staff and medics more than an hour to respond and get the inmate removed to an ambulance, according to inmates who said they witnessed the incident. Lenaburg was in critical condition Monday.The inmates said the medical staff had just stood around after the man was stricken."We can document it minute by minute," said one inmate in a telephone interview, who asked not to be identified. "They were just standing around talking and doing nothing."

Eldon Barnes, bureau chief of support services at the prison, disputed the inmates' version of what happened. "Our people responded almost immediately," he said. "As soon as Air Med got there we got him out of there."

Inmates said it took quite some time for prison staff to even arrive on the scene, and that they stood around the victim doing nothing until a prison nurse showed up even later.

Barnes said the staff members who initially responded were not medics and had no training in how to help the stricken man. "It's not our policy to just stand around," he said.

Inmates disagree, saying that behavior is too common. Inmates say only one corrections officer was on duty when the emergency occurred. Once the nurse offered first aid, "there wasn't much else they could do until Air Med got there. The inmates may have misinterpreted that for standing around."