web analytics

Come in Houston…

Written By: - Date published: 5:56 pm, July 11th, 2013 - 16 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?

16 comments on “Come in Houston… ”

  1. Tim 1

    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 [email protected].
    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

  • Aotearoa NZ responds to COVID-19 in Niue
    Aotearoa New Zealand is sending a medical team and supplies to Niue to help it respond to new cases of COVID-19, following the opening of its border to quarantine-free travel last week. Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare have announced a Medical Assistance Team will head to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Govt boosts digital skills for over 30,000 small businesses
    More than 30,000 small businesses have participated in Government-funded digital training, which supports businesses to take advantage of digital tools and new opportunities through e-commerce, Minister for Small Business Stuart Nash announced today. “Over the last two years, many business owners had no option but to move to digital platforms ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    22 hours ago
  • Crown accounts reflect Government’s balanced fiscal management
    The latest Crown Accounts show a solid result, despite challenging international conditions – reflecting the Government’s careful management of the books. For the eleven months to the end of May 2022 the Operating Balance before Gains and Losses (OBEGAL) deficit was $7.7 billion, $5.5 billion below that forecast in May’s ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    22 hours ago
  • Government action to tackle delays in Family Court
    New legislation aimed at tackling delays in the family justice system, will help improve the wellbeing of thousands of children caught up in Family Court disputes every year, Justice Minister Kiri Allan says. The Family Court (Family Court Associate) Legislation Bill will see a number of Family Court Associates employed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    22 hours ago
  • Minister to meet all rural and provincial councils
    New Associate Minister of Local Government Kieran McAnulty is today beginning a series of visits to all of the 55 rural and provincial councils across the motu. “Local government plays a crucial role in our democratic system, ensuring people have a voice in the leadership of their community,” Kieran McAnulty ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    22 hours ago
  • Imports of Russian gold banned
    Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta and Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor have announced that Aotearoa New Zealand will ban the import of Russian gold. “Today’s decision further signals Aotearoa New Zealand’s condemnation of Russia’s flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty,” Nanaia Mahuta said. “It underscores our intention of ensuring ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Public Health services to improve health for all Kiwis
    The rollout of the new nationwide health system continued today with the launch of the country’s first national public health system to fight disease and promote healthy lives. The Public Health Agency will lead and co-ordinate population and public health policy, strategy and regulation, while the national Public Health ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Prime Minister to lead trade mission to Australia
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will lead a trade mission including over 30 New Zealand businesses to Melbourne and Sydney this week as part of the Government’s reconnection strategy to support export growth and the return of tourists post COVID-19. While in Sydney, Jacinda Ardern will also give an address to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Applications now open for new work visa holders from offshore
    Final stage of Accredited Employer Work Visa goes live today Offshore migrants can apply to work in New Zealand for an accredited employer Partners and dependents of work visa applicants can also apply for visas from today New Zealand has taken another significant step forward in our Reconnecting plan ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Better and fairer access to legal assistance
    Raising eligibility thresholds will provide a helping hand to more than 90,000 New Zealanders currently denied access to legal aid, Justice Minister Kiri Allan says. “The Government is committed to driving through legislative changes to strengthen our legal aid system. “Enshrining changes in legislation and regulations is necessary to give ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Diplosphere Conference 2022
    Mihi Manawa maiea te pūtanga o Matariki Manawa maiea te ariki o te rangi Manawa maiea te mātahi o te tau! Thank you for the invitation to join you today. Unfortunately I can’t be there in person but I'm pleased that this is an opportunity for young Māori and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Strengthening NZ-UK people, science and trade connections
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern met UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London overnight, and together took a number of steps to strengthen the already close ties between our two countries, and promote our common interests in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. “The UK is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s oldest and closest friends and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Joint Statement – Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern and Boris Johnson
    Building a more secure, sustainable and prosperous future together: Joint Statement – Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern and Boris Johnson 1. New Zealand and the United Kingdom are old friends and close partners. Our relationship rests on a bedrock of history, shared values, and deep people-to-people links, extending across almost all ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • PM’s Chatham House
    Director Sir Robin Niblett, distinguished guests. What an honour it is to be back in London, and to be here at Chatham house. This visit represents much for me. The reopening of borders and resumption of travel after a difficult few years. The chance to bring life to the UK ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Otago Foreign Policy School, opening address
    Manawa maiea te pūtanga o Matariki Manawa maiea te ariki o te rangi Manawa maiea te mātahi o te tau! Introduction I’m pleased to join you for my second address at the 56th Annual Otago Foreign Policy School.  The topic for this year is Space. Given that we are in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government launches new Ministry of Disabled People
    New Ministry will officially be called Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People Public Service Commission have appointed Geraldine Woods as Interim Chief Executive Office for Disability Issues to be folded into the new Ministry In what is a milestone day, the Government has launched Aotearoa New Zealand’s first Whaikaha ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Further Investment to support rangatahi to overcome barriers to employment
    Nine new He Poutama Rangatahi programmes have been approved funding.  These programmes will provide work-readiness, training and employment initiatives for over 820 rangatahi NEETS (not in education, employment or training), across Aotearoa New Zealand.  "He Poutama Rangatahi has proven to be a very successful initiative which supports rangatahi to overcome ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Crown appointments to Ihumātao Steering Committee
    Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson today announced the appointment of Crown representatives, Dr Charlotte Severne and Mr Bernie O’Donnell, to the Steering Committee that will determine the future of the Ihumātao land.   “I’m pleased to have made the Crown appointments. Both Dr Severne and Mr O’Donnell have extensive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Health Minister Andrew Little's address to first joint meeting of the boards of Te Whatu Ora &#...
    I begin by thanking each of you for accepting appointment to these boards. You’ve each been on the Ministerial committee that established Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand and Te Aka Whai Ora - the Māori Health Authority and I express my appreciation for the enormous task you collectively ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Hong Kong National Security Law
    Aotearoa New Zealand has reiterated its concerns over the continued erosion of rights, freedom and autonomy in Hong Kong. On the second anniversary of the introduction of the Hong Kong National Security Law, the Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta says developments in Hong Kong remain a cause for worry. “Two years ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Europol Agreement will assist New Zealand law enforcement in tackling serious crime
    The Europol Agreement signed is a significant milestone for New Zealand and the European Union’s relationship, and reflects our shared principles of democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today. The Prime Minister attended a signature ceremony in Brussels, as part of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New era for better health in Aotearoa New Zealand
    ·       New nationwide public health system ·       20 district health boards disestablished and deficits wiped ·       82,000 health employees directly employed by Health New Zealand ·       $24 billion health budget this year – up 43% since Labour took office in 2017 – in addition to separate funding for the new ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New chairs appointed to the Teaching Council and Te Kura
    Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced appointments to the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand and the Board of Trustees of Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura). “Robyn Baker ONZM has been appointed as the chair of the Teaching Council. She has considerable governance experience and is a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Joint media release on the occasion of the meeting between European Commission President von der Ley...
    European Commission President von der Leyen and Prime Minister of New Zealand Ardern met in Brussels on 30 June 2022. The encounter provided an opportunity to reaffirm that the European Union and Aotearoa New Zealand are longstanding partners with shared democratic values and interests, aligned positions on key international and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand secures major free trade deal with European Union
    Export revenue to the EU to grow by up to $1.8 billion annually on full implementation. Duty-free access on 97% of New Zealand’s current exports to the EU; with over 91% being removed the day the FTA comes into force. NZ exporters set to save approx. $110 million per annum ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Biggest Year for Clean Cars on Record
    57,000 EVs and Hybrid registered in first year of clean car scheme, 56% increase on previous year EVs and Non Plug-in Hybrids made up 20% of new passenger car sales in March/April 2022 The Government’s Clean Car Discount Scheme has been a success, with more than 57,000 light-electric and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Police Wing 355 includes the highest ever proportion of Wāhine Māori
    Police Minister Chris Hipkins congratulates the newest Police wing – wing 355 – which graduated today in Porirua. “These 70 new constables heading for the frontline bring the total number of new officers since Labour took office to 3,303 and is the latest mark of our commitment to the Police ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New RBNZ board takes up role from 1 July
    Members with a range of governance, financial and technical skills have been appointed to the Reserve Bank Board as part of the shift to strengthen the Bank’s decision-making and accountability arrangements. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 2021 comes into force on 1 July 2022, with the establishment of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New measures to help manage COVID-19 as country stays at Orange
    New Zealand to remain at Orange as case numbers start to creep up 50 child-size masks made available to every year 4-7 student in New Zealand 20,000-30,000 masks provided a week to all other students and school staff Extra funding to schools and early childhood services to supports better ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • NZ to join International Court of Justice case against Russia
    Aotearoa New Zealand will join Ukraine’s case against Russia at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which challenges Russia’s spurious attempt to justify its invasion under international law. Ukraine filed a case at the ICJ in February arguing Russia has falsely claimed genocide had occurred in Luhansk and Donetsk regions, as ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New advisory group provides enduring Māori expertise for Te Aorerekura delivery
    The Government has taken another step forward in its work to eliminate family violence and sexual violence with the announcement today of a new Tangata Whenua Ministerial Advisory Group. A team of 11 experts in whānau Māori wellbeing will provide the Government independent advice on shaping family violence and sexual ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Making work better for Kiwi women
    Te Mahere Whai Mahi Wāhine: Women’s Employment Action Plan was launched today by Minister for Women Jan Tinetti – with the goal of ensuring New Zealand is a great place for women to work. “This Government is committed to improving women’s working lives. The current reality is that women have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Good Employer Awards celebrate food and fibre sector
    The food and fibre sector acknowledged its people and leadership at last night’s 2022 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards, a time to celebrate their passion towards supporting employees by putting their health, welfare and wellbeing first,” Acting Minister of Agriculture Meka Whairiti said. “Award winners were selected from an extraordinary ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • PM's comments to NATO session
    Kia ora koutou katoa.  It is a rare thing to have New Zealand represented at a NATO Summit. While we have worked together in theatres such as Afghanistan, and have been partners for just on a decade, today represents an important moment for our Pacific nation.   New Zealand is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Veterans Minister announces new focus on mental health for veterans and their whānau
    Te Arataki mō te Hauora Ngākau mō ngā Mōrehu a Tū me ō rātou Whānau, The Veteran, Family and Whānau Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy Framework “We ask a lot of those who serve in the military – and we ask a lot of the families and whānau who support ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Minister to advocate for Small Island States
    Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs Aupito William Sio has been appointed by the United Nations and Commonwealth as Aotearoa New Zealand’s advocacy champion for Small Island States.  “Aotearoa New Zealand as a Pacific country is particularly focused on the interests of Pacific Small Island Developing States in our region.  “This is a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Increased support for households to pay local council rates
    An estimated 100,000 low income households will be eligible for increased support to pay their council rates, with changes to the rates rebate scheme taking effect from 1 July. Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has announced increases to both the maximum value of the rates rebate, and the income threshold ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • He Oranga Poutama expanded into four new regions
    A long-standing physical activity programme that focuses on outcomes for Maori has been expanded to four new regions with Government investment almost doubled to increase its reach. He Oranga Poutama is managed by a combination of hapū, iwi, hauora and regional providers.   An increase in funding from $1.8 million ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Wellington’s rapid transit option progresses to next stage
    The Government is progressing a preferred option for LGWM which will see Wellington’s transport links strengthened with light rail from Wellington Station to Island Bay, a new tunnel through Mt Victoria for public transport, and walking and cycling, and upgrades to improve traffic flow at the Basin Reserve. “Where previous ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Keynote remarks: Tech 4 Democracy Summit, Madrid
    To Provost Muniz, to the Organisers at the Instituto de Empresa  buenas tardes and as we would say in New Zealand, kia ora kotou katoa.  To colleagues from the State Department, from Academia, and Civil Society Groups, to all our distinguished guests - kia ora tatou katoa. It’s a pleasure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago