Monday, September 10, 2007

Australia: Don't have an accident on the weekend

MATTHEW Lawson was a code one patient who died at the scene of his accident near the Gold Coast. Despite his urgent need for medical treatment, it took ambulance officers 25 minutes to reach the father of two young daughters. Records obtained under Freedom of Information laws also reveal ambulance officers pressed the "on-scene button" more than five minutes before they actually arrived, a practice the Queensland Ambulance Service Commissioner has vehemently denied is used to falsify response-time records.

As concern continues to build about the state of our ambulance service, Mr Lawson's family desperately wants to know whether he could have been saved if medical treatment had been delivered sooner. Mr Lawson, 35, of Ormeau Hills, died about an hour after his motorbike collided with a car on August 26 last year at Ormeau, just a few minutes away from the closest ambulance station.

An ambulance spokeswoman said that station was closed on the weekends and the nearest operating station was about 10km away at Beenleigh. "At the time of the call, ambulance teams in the area were responding to a number of life-threatening cases, including two patients with chest pain and a patient with breathing problems," she said. Mr Lawson's family said they were told by a Queensland Health official that he might have been saved if medical help had arrived sooner because he most probably bled to death from his multiple fractures.

A coroner is investigating his death. An autopsy found he died of "multiple injuries due to a motorcycle accident". Mr Lawson's sister, Michelle Lawson, said the QAS was endangering lives with its lengthy response times. "It's just not fair. Matthew bled to death on the side of the road and I feel that the ambulance service and the Government as a whole are responsible for his death.," she said. "I think if the ambulance did get there within a certain time frame he probably could have survived."

Ambulance records show the first officers reached the scene at 6.19pm but treatment did not begin until 6.26pm after a second crew arrived. A statement from QAS said the time recording of 6.19pm was a mistake. "The Woodridge unit pressed the on-scene button at 6.19pm when adjacent to the incident but the crew then realised that they were unable to cross the Pacific Motorway at that location and had to proceed down the motorway to an exit and return along the service road to the incident," the statement said. The service also lost an electrocardiogram strip the family had requested.


Don't have an accident in Britain

A teenage climber dialled 999 [Britain's emergency no.] when he was left clinging for his life to the side of a cliff - and was put on hold.

Terry Price, 16, was stuck more than an hour after seeing his mate Roy Williams, 18, plunge 40ft to the ground. He called 999 from the cliff in Uphill, Somerset but was connected to police in South Wales and Nottinghamshire before finally being put through to local cops.

Terry, of Weston-super-Mare, said: "I was hanging on for my life and they put me on hold when I rang 999. "It was half-an-hour before I was put through to the right person and another hour until they arrived. I couldn't believe it. It felt like I was clinging on for ages - it was my worst nightmare."

Roy suffered a fractured thumb, broken tooth and facial injuries and was badly shaken up.

BT spokesman Jason Mann said: "We are very sorry that this happened. "When we get a 999 call from a mobile, the operator can see which mast the call came through and identify which area's emergency department they should put the caller through to. "It appears the young man's signal was picked up by a mast in South Wales instead of one in Somerset. That can happen if a mast in the specific area is down."


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