web analytics

Come in Houston…

Written By: - Date published: 5:56 pm, July 11th, 2013 - 15 comments
Categories: health, quality of life, Social issues - Tags: ,

Today, a passenger on the bus I was travelling on, had a fit or seizure of some description. Luckily for them, they slumped sideways into the recovery position and the bus was stationery, having just pulled into a bus stop.

The driver and another passenger ‘oversaw’ the person for the duration of their seizure. So far so good. The person then responded to the driver that they had never had such an episode before. And so, the driver, quite reasonably and presumably acting on the precautionary principle, phoned emergency services.

Obviously, the call centre wasn’t in Dunedin as the driver had to reiterate he was in Albany Street, describe where Albany Street was and point out that ‘Albany’ began with an ‘a’ and not an ‘e’. Had the street been by any other name, then that small breakdown in communication wouldn’t even have been noticed. But questioning the whereabouts of Albany Street? I mean, for the benefit of anyone unfamiliar with Dunedin – anyone – everyone in Dunedin knows where Albany Street is due to the fact it runs down by the side of the University.

Anyway, the call proceeded on the basis of the driver answering direct questions or running rudimentary first aid diagnoses under instruction from the person on the other end of the phone.

Then he was told an ambulance would be on its way. So we waited.

And ten minutes became fifteen minutes. And fifteen minutes became over twenty minutes. And still there was no sign of an ambulance. Again, for those unfamiliar with Dunedin, Albany Street is one block away from the hospital…a two to three minute walk. The driver re-dialled emergency services and again was told to wait and assured that an ambulance would be there.

And more than forty minutes ticked by.

During that period, the person who had ‘fitted’ left the bus and began to walk along the road. I caught them up and suggested they come back to the bus as we were awaiting an ambulance. They hadn’t realised…had forgotten…that was why the bus was just sitting there.

So they, perfectly functional but discombobulated, came back to the bus. I asked where they had intended to go when they had left the bus and was told they were heading towards the hospital, though they had no idea where they were. And as minutes ticked by they became more inclined to be upset – tears of embarrassment, guilt, confusion or whatever bubbling just beneath the surface in spite of reassurances from the other passengers that any delay to our journey was inconsequential.

I don’t know what happened in the end as another bus came to ferry the rest of us passengers home after forty minutes or so.

But what the fuck is it that emergency services say they are sending an ambulance from no more than three or four hundred meters away and more than forty minutes pass and no assistance has arrived?

Is this common place? And if it is, is it acceptable? The driver, myself and the other passengers have been left gobsmacked.

I mean, if emergency services were reasonably confident that no emergency existed, then why did they instruct the driver to wait? Why, if there was deemed to be no emergency, weren’t instructions issued to simply bring the person (either by bus or on foot or ‘later’)  to the hospital for a check-up/over? Anyone out there have any experience/knowledge that could provide answers or a measure of understanding? Or is it all as a consequence of the information contained in this article from the turn of the year?

15 comments on “Come in Houston…”

  1. Tim 1

    http://thestandard.org.nz/no-one-was-there-to-meet-them-no-one-went-to-help-them/

    Comments 1 & 1.1

    Same shit – different stink!
    This risk managers and bean counters have been hard at work

  2. wolf 2

    Would like to hear st johns / dispatchers side of the story before passing judgement

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      No, after better than an hour, I’d say that their side no longer counts except as an example of what we need to fix.

  3. weka 3

    At a guess I would say they prioritised the available ambulances based on what was said in the phone call. I’ve been in that situation where the medical person on the other end of the phone asked quite specific questions and based on the answers made a decision about whether to use the ambulance or whether we should drive the injured person in. The main issue is if there is a life threatening emergency and the one available ambulance is tied up with a non-acute case.

    I’ve also been in the situation where I was waiting for an ambulance that never arrived (I eventually rang friends to pick me up and take me to A and E). The thing about that, and your situation today, is that communication could have been way better. Yes we will send an ambulance but it’s likely to be 30-40 mintues time. We’ve assessed the situation as not acute (or whatever), so please wait etc.

    btw, The 111 call centres were centralised in the 90s (eg all the South Island ones went to Chch). Prior to that time a call to 111 would go to a local exchange, staffed by people who knew the area. I don’t know what level of training staff were given but the general feeling was that if you lived in Dunedin and called 111 and said Albany St, then they would know where you meant. At the time of the change people said it would cost lives and there have been a few high profile cases where that looks to be the case.

  4. McFlock 4

    Intense.
    Needless to say, if a replacement bus can arrive before an ambulance, someone fucked up somewhere. Seizures w/o previous history can be associated with very big issues.

    In the mid-noughts I had to call for the emergency services pretty regularly to the same area (including incidents where my response to the “fire/police/ambulance” question was “all of them”), and I never had a wait that long – and usually had good feedback on how far away folk were.

    Basically, it sounds like a resource issue – the depot is only 5 blocks from the hospital, so obviously all the vehicles with crews were out and about. Cruely ironic that the ODT had an article this very day headlined “No lack of city St John volunteers”.

    So barring a fuckup at the comms centre, my guess is that all the trucks were doing patient transport or at other incidents, with none spare to cover central Dunedin. this article reckons their central dunedin response time in 2/3 of incidents is 12 minutes, so your situation is a definite long tail and deserves investigation. A letter or email to St John might give some perspective.

  5. Pasupial 5

    I’m sure that everyone has experienced the feeling that the call centre on the other end of the phone doesn’t give a damn whether you live or die. It is a bit on the nose when the call is for an ambulance though!

  6. Rogue Trooper 6

    kinda like waiting on the runway, alongside a broken, burning 777…
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10897191

  7. Noko 7

    Totally good post, but not quite factually right. The hospital is 400m from Albany St, but St John ambulance station is on lower York Place, another 800m from the hospital.
    Super chump.

    • McFlock 7.1

      oh, well, at those distances they should have used the helicopter /sarc

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      And where are the spare buses kept?

      • McFlock 7.2.1

        Depends on the company, but two or three times the distance to the ambulance depot.
        Although it was probably just the next one on the schedule.

  8. My name is Rick Jones, and I am the Southern Communications Centre Manager for St John.
    We’d like to respond to the weblog post made last week about an incident in Dunedin.
    We certainly appreciate that situations like these can be very distressing for the people involved, especially for bystanders.
    In this specific incident, through our call taking process, we were able to ascertain that the patient was not in a life-threatening condition.
    We spoke to the driver three times during this situation and advised them that because of workload (all available emergency Ambulances were at other incidents) we would be with the patient as soon as possible. The driver also updated us regularly on the condition of the patient, which had not changed.
    In the event, the patient’s family arrived and took the patient to hospital.
    With regards to the comments around locating the incident, the Southern Communications Centre is based in Christchurch and handles over 700 calls a day (both emergency and non-emergency) for the entire South Island.
    If people have further concerns or questions they are welcome to contact me directly at rick.jones@stjohn.org.nz.
    Rick Jones, Southern Communications Centre Manager, St John

    • r0b 8.1

      Thanks for taking the time to describe the incident form your point of view.

    • McFlock 8.2

      Thanks for that information, Rick.

      I suppose that the issue for me is the amount of time that it took for the person to actually reach medical help (based purely on a phone diagnosis) when their incident happened in the middle of town (conflict of interest disclaimer – I’m usually in that part of town, and have reached the age where physical decrepitude seems to be fast approaching. You’re getting old when you feel that it might be a wise personal healthcare move to memorise the defibrillator machine locator map 🙂 ).

      Surely there’s a better way of advising callers as to the expected arrival time of an ambulance beyond “as soon as possible” – I get annoyed enough when the taxi company says that and they’re forty minutes or more away, let alone an ambulance. Is there any policy on advising when to do self transport to hospital, given that the distance was so small in this case?

    • Bill 8.3

      Thr three times the driver spoke to you were the two occasions mentioned in the original post and on a third occasion (according to the conversation I had with the driver today) about 15 minutes after the rest of us passengers had been ferried away and after family members had arrived and taken the person to the hospital themselves.

      Can’t see where ‘regular updates on the condition of the patient’ come into it.

      Regardless, it seems that the question of the original post has been answered. A second rate emergency response is the norm for NZ. Good to know.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Five months too long for homeless to wait
    New figures revealing homeless people registered with Work and Income are waiting an average of 155 days to be housed shows the Government is totally overwhelmed by the housing crisis, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “What’s worse is ...
    14 hours ago
  • Minister in cloud cuckoo land
    Hekia Parata needs a very big reality check if she truly believes every parent has the choice of sending their child to a private school, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. Questioned in the House today about plans to pump ...
    15 hours ago
  • Convention centre failure means years of uncertainty for CBD
    The failure of Gerry Brownlee’s planned convention centre deal leaves Christchurch facing uncertainty about when activity will be restored to the CBD, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “As one of the CBD’s major anchor projects, the convention centre complex ...
    16 hours ago
  • PCE proves water quality still deteriorating
    The PCE State of the Environment Report shows that river water quality is continuing to get worse across large parts of New Zealand, says Labour’s Environment and Water spokesperson David Parker. “Water quality has deteriorated in Canterbury, Central Otago, Auckland, ...
    18 hours ago
  • Families with new babies victims of today’s veto
    Families with new babies are the victims of an historical “first” for the New Zealand Parliament today. “For the first time ever, a Bill will have a third reading debate and no vote will be taken at the end because ...
    22 hours ago
  • Crime on the rise…again!
    The Police Minister’s contention that Police have enough resources to meet the expectations of New Zealand communities is not reflected in the Police’s own statistics, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash.  “Yet again, reported burglaries have increased in every region ...
    1 day ago
  • Private schools beneficiaries of extra cash
    Plans to give more taxpayer money to private schools at a time when state schools are struggling to make ends meet says everything about the National Government’s twisted priorities, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Not only did this year’s ...
    2 days ago
  • Inequality getting worse under National
    Inequality is getting worse under National with almost 60 per cent of the wealth in this country concentrated in the hands of the top 10 per cent according to Statistics NZ figures released today, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    2 days ago
  • Government freezes elderly out of insulation subsidy
    Government cuts to the Warm Up New Zealand insulation subsidy means it will now only be available for rental properties and could leave many elderly homeowners cold this winter, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “In this year’s Budget the Government ...
    3 days ago
  • Shewan report delivers rebuke to National
    John Shewan’s report into foreign trusts is a rebuke to John Key and the National Party who have protected an industry that has damaged New Zealand’s reputation, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Three years ago the Inland Revenue Department ...
    3 days ago
  • Auckland Airport rail analysis must be made public
    The Government should publicly release its detailed analysis of rail to Auckland Airport before it closes off options, so the public can have an informed debate, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford. The Transport Agency today said it is ...
    3 days ago
  • Minister approved OIO consent despite death and investigations
    Louise Upston must say if she knew Intueri was being prosecuted for the death of a student and under a funding investigation when she approved its overseas investment consent to buy another education provider, says Labour’s Land Information and Associate ...
    4 days ago
  • Brexit vote costs NZ effective EU voice
    Despite being extremely close the result of the referendum in Britain reflects the majority voice, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. “While we respect the decision to leave the EU, it goes without saying the move will usher in ...
    5 days ago
  • Pasifika Education Centre doomed
    The Pasifika Education Centre appears doomed to close down this December, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio  “In a written question I asked the Minister whether he would put a bid in for more money. His answer ...
    6 days ago
  • Onetai Station review a shameful whitewash
    A report released today on the Overseas Investment Office’s (OIO) good character test is a whitewash that does nothing to improve New Zealand’s overseas investment regime, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson David Cunliffe. “The review of the good character test ...
    6 days ago
  • We need a national strategy to end homelessness now
    Long before I entered Parliament, housing and homelessness were issues dear to my heart. I know from personal experience just how hard it is to find an affordable home in Auckland. In my maiden speech, I talked about how when ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    6 days ago
  • Capital feels a chill economic wind
      Wellington is on the cusp of recession with a sharp fall in economic confidence in the latest Westpac McDermott Miller confidence survey, says Labour’s Regional Development spokesperson David Clark.  “Economic confidence amongst Wellingtonians has dropped 12% in the past ...
    6 days ago
  • Dive school rort took six years to dredge up
    News that yet another private training establishment (PTE) has rorted the Government’s tertiary funding system since 2009 shows that Steven Joyce has no control of the sector, says Labour’s Associate Education (Tertiary) spokesperson David Cunliffe. “Like Agribusiness Training and Taratahi, ...
    7 days ago
  • National’s housing crisis hitting renters hard
    National’s ongoing housing crisis is causing massive rental increases, with Auckland renters being hit the hardest, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    7 days ago
  • A Day with the PSA
    This week, along with Labour MP Kris Faafoi, I accepted an invitation to spend a day working alongside the good folk at the Public Service Association in Wellington. As the Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson for the Greens, I was ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    7 days ago
  • A Day with the PSA
    This week, along with Labour MP Kris Faafoi, I accepted an invitation to spend a day working alongside the good folk at the Public Service Association in Wellington. As the Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson for the Greens, I was ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    7 days ago
  • Government holds Northland back
    New information shows Northland remains the most economically depressed region in New Zealand, says Labour’s Regional Development spokesperson David Clark. “The latest Westpac McDermott Miller regional survey found that more Northlanders believe their local economy will deteriorate this year than ...
    7 days ago
  • Rebstock report into MFAT leaks a disgrace
    An Ombudsman’s report on the Paul Rebstock investigation into MFAT leaks shows the two diplomats at the centre of the case were treated disgracefully, says Labour’s State Services spokesperson Kris Faafoi.  “The Ombudsman says one of the diplomats Derek Leask ...
    7 days ago
  • More families forced to turn to food banks for meals
    Increasing numbers of families are having to go to food banks just to put a meal on the table, according to a new report that should shame the Government into action, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. ...
    7 days ago
  • We have a housing emergency in New Zealand
    Auckland, New Zealand, where house prices have risen 20 percent in the last year alone We have a housing emergency in New Zealand.  Like many people we are ashamed and angry that in a wealthy country like ours, we have ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • We have a housing emergency in New Zealand
    Auckland, New Zealand, where house prices have risen 20 percent in the last year alone We have a housing emergency in New Zealand.  Like many people we are ashamed and angry that in a wealthy country like ours, we have ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • Aussie reforms signal trouble ahead for school funding plan
    Plans by the Government to return to bulk funding are likely to see increased class sizes and schools most in need missing out on much-needed resources, Labour’s Acting Education spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The signaled return to bulk funding is ...
    1 week ago
  • Toxic Sites – the down low on the go slow
    In  2011, I negotiated an agreement with the National Government to advance work on cleaning up contaminated sites across the country. This included establishing a National Register of the ten worst sites where the creators of the problem could not ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Aucklanders face new motorway tax of up to $2500 a year
    The Government wants to tax Aucklanders thousands of dollars a year just to use the motorway network, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Officials estimate the average city commute is 11.8km. This means for the average Aucklander commuting five ...
    1 week ago
  • 15 corrupt bank managers identified in student fraud
    New information show 15 bank managers in India have been identified by Immigration New Zealand as presenting fraudulent documents on behalf of foreign students studying here, Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. “Documents obtained by Labour under the Official Information ...
    1 week ago
  • National leaves Kiwi savers the most vulnerable in OECD
    News last week that Israel’s Finance Minister will insure savers’ bank deposits means New Zealand will be left as the only country in the OECD that has no deposit insurance to protect savers’ funds should a bank fail. Most Kiwis ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    1 week ago
  • Comprehensive plan for future of work needed
    A Massey University study showing many New Zealanders are unaware of the increasing role of automation in their workplace, highlights the need for a comprehensive plan for the future of work, says Grant Robertson, Chair of Labour’s Future of Work ...
    1 week ago
  • Another National Government failure: 90 day work trials
    On Friday last week, the Treasury released a report by MOTU economic consultants into the effectiveness of the controversial 90-day work trial legislation. The report found that there was “no evidence that the policy affected the number of hires by ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    1 week ago
  • Iraq mission extension case not made
    The Prime Minister has not made the case for extending the Iraq deployment another 18 months nor the expansion of their mission, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “Labour originally opposed the deployment because the Iraqi Army’s track record was poor, ...
    1 week ago
  • Denial is a long river
    William Rolleston from Federated Farmers made the absurd claim on RNZ on Saturday that “we actually have very clean rivers”. This statement doesn’t represent the many farmers who know water quality is in big trouble and are working to clean ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Denial is a long river
    William Rolleston from Federated Farmers made the absurd claim on RNZ on Saturday that “we actually have very clean rivers”. This statement doesn’t represent the many farmers who know water quality is in big trouble and are working to clean ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Melanoma deaths could be avoided by an early access scheme
      The tragic death of Dunedin’s Graeme Dore from advanced Melanoma underlines the cruelty of this Government in promising a treatment but delaying for months, says Labour’s Health Spokesperson Annette King.  “Graeme was diagnosed with Melanoma last year. He used ...
    1 week ago
  • Assessing the Defence White Paper
    The Government’s recently released Defence White Paper has raised questions again about New Zealand’s defence priorities, and in particular the level and nature of public funding on defensive capabilities. The Green Party has a longstanding belief that priority must be ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham
    1 week ago
  • Kiwis’ confidence drops again: Economy needs a boost
    Westpac’s consumer confidence survey has fallen for the seventh time in nine quarters, with middle income households ‘increasingly worried about where the economy is heading over the next few years’, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “This survey is a ...
    1 week ago
  • Relocation grant simply kicks can down the road
    The response by state house tenants and social agencies to the Government’s rushed plan to shift families out of Auckland tells us what we already knew – this is no answer to the chronic housing shortage, Opposition Leader Andrew Little ...
    1 week ago
  • Peace hīkoi to Parihaka
    On Friday a Green crew walked with the peace hīkoi from Ōkato to Parihaka. Some of us were from Parliament and some were party members from Taranaki and further afield. It was a cloudy but gentle day and at one ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Children’s Commissioner right to worry about CYF transition
    The Government must listen to the Children’s Commissioner’s concerns that young people under CYF care could be ‘negatively impacted’ as the new agency’s reforms become reality, says Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern. “Dr Russell Wills has used the second annual ...
    1 week ago
  • Bill English exaggerates PPL costs to justify veto
    The Finance Minister has used trumped-up costings to justify a financial veto against parents having 26 weeks paid parental leave, says Labour MP Sue Moroney. “Bill English’s assertion on RNZ yesterday that the measure would cost an extra $280 million ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government must refund overcharged motorists
    Labour is calling on the Government to refund motor registration fees to three-quarters of a million Kiwi motorists whose vehicles were wrongly classified under National’s shambolic ACC motor vehicle risk rating system, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says.“Minister Kaye’s ridiculous ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 90-day work trials an unfair failure which must change
    A new Treasury report shows the Government’s 90-day trials haven’t helped businesses and are inherently unfair, Labour’s Workplace Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. “The Motu report found that 90-day trial periods had no impact on overall employment and did not ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Massey East houses a start but Nick Smith should think bigger
    The Massey East 196-home development is a start but the Government must think bigger if it is to end the housing crisis, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “It is great the Government is finally realising it needs to build ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More changes needed to ensure fewer cases like Teina Pora’s
    Teina Pora spent 21 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, shafted by a Police investigation that prioritised an investigator’s hunch over the pursuit of credible evidence. Yesterday’s announcement that the government is to pay him $2.5m in ...
    GreensBy David Clendon
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand Labour sends condolences to UK
    The New Zealand Labour Party is sickened and saddened by the murder of British Labour MP Jo Cox, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “Ms Cox was killed in cold blood while simply doing her job as a constituent MP. She ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Shameful refugee quota increase still leaves NZ at the bottom of the list
    Minister for Immigration Michael Woodhouse announced this week that the government will put off increasing the refugee quota by 1000 places until 2018.  It’s a shameful decision that undermines the Government’s claim that it takes its international humanitarian obligations seriously, ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 weeks ago
  • Paula Bennett as a victim hard to swallow
    The National Party spin machine has gone into overdrive to try and present Paula Bennett as the victim in the Te Puea Marae smear saga, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Bill English in Parliament today tried valiantly to paint ...
    2 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere