Feeds

back to article Ambulance satnav not to blame for asthma attack boy's death

Satnav technology is off the hook after a coroner ruled that a nine-year-old boy who suffered a fatal asthma attack would not have survived had the ambulance sent to his aid been routed correctly by its GPS box. Worcestershire Coroner Geraint Williams ruled yesterday that Corey Seymour died from natural causes. "Would the …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

It's very sad...

...for the friends and family of the boy, but probably sadder I think that someone always has to be to blame for these sort of incidents.

8
2

Re: It's very sad...

I think it was very reasonable to have some big what if questions after something so tragic, I'm not sure the mother was necessarily looking for someone to blame (I know a lot of people do and media angles tend to lean this way too) but who wouldn't ask these sorts of questions?

Glad to see a solid judgement from the coroner and seemingly fairly quickly too (although no dates on either article) so at least the family can get on and grieve without waiting for months/years for answers.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: It's very sad...

But the ambulance was late, in other circumstances it might have mattered.

Would you like your ambulance arriving late?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: It's very sad...

No I wouldn't like my ambulance to be "late", but there are any number of things that can make an ambulance "late": Heavy traffic, road works, breakdowns, distance (suppose the crew's last shout had been two miles further away), etc.

Maybe the satnav sent them the wrong way a little bit, but you may as well blame the manufacturer of the ambulance itself for not making it faster in the first place. If they'd been using a map, they might have arrived even later.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

With all due sympathy.

Life sucks, and sometimes you get dealt crap.

Harsh, but true.

Obviously devastating when it happens, but looking for a scapegoat doens't help at all.

You get the people who would be dead if they collapsed in ICU, with a defib already charged and ready and a team of cardiologists.

People would still try and blame someone for that.

4
4

Re: With all due sympathy.

I doubt it's anything to do with looking to place blame in a scapegoat sense.

But it only makes sense for the family, and for all of us in the future (I would prefer that an ambulance make it to my daughters heart attack in, say, 10 minutes rather than 13 after all) to see whether things could be improved for the future.

There's no sense in just shrugging your shoulders and saying "oh well" if you have the chance of making things better in the future.

I'd also question how much sympathy you actually have with your "all due sympathy" when you're saying "Life sucks, and sometimes you get dealt crap" - doesn't sound too sympathetic to me.

3
1
Bronze badge

Re: With all due sympathy.

"You get the people who would be dead if they collapsed in ICU, with a defib already charged and ready and a team of cardiologists."

Well that's true. A defibrillator wouldn't do anything to save you from cardiac arrest. The point here is that the family and the ambulance service needed to know whether that 150 second delay would have made a difference.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: With all due sympathy.

Life does indeed suck, but I would hesitate to point that out to someone who has lost a child - I think they'd know that anyway.

The delay may or may not have contributed to the result and a determination on that was exactly what the Coroner was there for.

I don't see any hint of someone looking for a scapegoat.

"Sympathy"? Look it up.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: With all due sympathy.

A prat.

0
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: With all due sympathy.

As I stated in another post, while in this case, it is very likely the outcome would have been the same, that does not imply it would be the same in all cases.

Minutes count.

If you're using GPS and a navigational computer to direct EMS to a scene, it bloody well better work and be easy to use.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

@Grease Monkey

First, this is anonymous for reasons which will become apparent.

"Well that's true. A defibrillator wouldn't do anything to save you from cardiac arrest."

That's a very absolute statement. That would depend on *WHY* you arrested. Look it up, if you're interested to find out why that statement of yours is, in fact, wrong, and backed by evidence contrariwise.

"The point here is that the family and the ambulance service needed to know whether that 150 second delay would have made a difference."

This is true.

The most likely cause of death here would have been a cardiac arrest precipitated by hypoxia following respiratory arrest (from the bronchoconstriction). This is assuming this is a pure asthma issue - anaphylaxis is another possibility, given the stated "sudden catastropic" nature of it.

If the paramedic arrived in 5 mins and the child arrested 3 minutes later, it is clear that the child was unfortunately probably almost peri-arrest when the paramedic arrived, and ... look, it's hard. You have a child here who's going to arrest on you, you're alone. The kid's probably not moving much air at all. All you can do is put on as much oxygen as you, try some salbutamol if you wish but the kid's not moving air... Support the airway, parenteral adrenaline+ roids, im initially, stick in an IO and try and support the kid as best you can, ALL on your own. You'll probably intubate the kid because your sats probe is just going beep beep beep lower and lower and then crap..... unless the adrenaline miraculously just works.... it does sometimes but I suspect it didn't here.

And you're doing this ALL on your own. Supporting the airway and breathing, delivering drugs. And possibly having to do crowd control as well - family etc...

Crap, you many not even have the bloody KIT you need. I don't know how you guys are set up in blighty but I gather it's pretty good though.

Then the child crashes. You're now doing ALS/CPR on your own. Honestly in a situation like this, where hypoxia will kill, and the chest is tight, imho, if you don't have an endotracheal tube in, delivering an FIO2 of unity, you are screwed. If you don't get oxygen in... basically you are screwed.

What COULD have made SOME DIFFERENCE is if the paramedic wasn't alone (ie the ambulance arrived together). Also, I have no idea what he/she had at her disposal or what the resuscitation was like - a nightmare I would have thought.

From me reading between the lines, it was a nightmare resuscitation. If the likely reversible cause of the arrest - hypoxemia - was not reversed, and there was no ROSC.... by the time the ambulance arrived... 15 or 20 mins later... the outcome would have been the same.

A few other points to ponder... not quite specific to the case but worth thinking about.

1. Regarding the satnav...It was not *THAT* many years ago that EMS vehicles had no GPS. That said...

2. Now, from personal experience I have had EMS vehicles on scene in 5 minutes but I don't live where you do. In say an arrest due to VF for example, minutes DO BLOODY COUNT because of the DEFIBRILLATOR. Or even something as simple as opening up an obstructed airway that no one had the sense to.

3. Regardless of this specific case, the SATNAV system used should be reviewed on a number of counts - the error of the reported position of the vehicle should be as low as possible, the SOFTWARE should BLOODY work, and the software should be easy to use. If you're in a rush you don't have bloody time to boot up crap and punch in a crapload of button pushes. My gripe with modern software sometimes. They don't bloody think about people who end up using the stuff.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: With all due sympathy.

Sympathy? That's the word in the dictionary between "shit" and "syphilis"?

I think my comment wasn't taken in exactly the right light.

OF COURSE it's a bad thing that a life was lost, and if the life could have been saved that'd have been a Very Good Thing (TM)

HOWEVER, you do get the terrible situation where good people die and there is nothing that anyone could do about it. Trying to attribute blame in those situations is meaningless and unduly distressing.

0
0
Unhappy

Another dodgey headline then ?

The press should check the facts before making such bold statements. In the original story it was said the kid had been rushed to hospital many times. It was just a matter of time before he would not make it one day.

0
0
Bronze badge
Stop

But would they have been quicker with a paper map?

Or any other alternative?

Surely that's the question to ask...

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Definitely a good question to ask, but I suspect that that's been asked and answered, or the local authorities wouldn't have splashed out for SatNav for all the ambulances.

I think the question that needs answering is: can they make it so that the same thing doesn't happen again.

Perhaps they can't, if the SatNav is a standard sort of thing, they don't have local knowledge after all, they can only go by what the maps they have loaded say; mine frequently routes me the long way round some of my local routes if I test it because it tries to take me via the (70mph) stretch of dual carriageway near my home.

But perhaps it's not "normal" SatNav, and they have some measure of control over the routing at the dispatching office. If so, then perhaps they can help in the future, and perhaps this inquiry could have found that.

1
0
Silver badge

In a word, no.

A map is only any good when you know where you are.

At my last house, there were 3 Vicarge Rds with 1/2 mile of each other. They all happen to be nr the boundry of 3 ajoining "towns" and unless you know which on e you were in, you would be stuffed. Especially as 2 of them were of the same main road and one of them only one road different (i.e. of a road of the main road).

0
0

It depends on the Ambulance Trust which in vehicle computer system they buy, but basically it is NOT a sat nav, it's a multi purpose computer. The computer links to the control centre and displays information about the patient as well as directions and other stuff.

Also, the ambulances are in radio contact with a dispatcher in the control room, the call taker you speak to when you dial 999 is on the other side of the room to the person controlling the ambulance, so there's no delay, they can even listen into the call if the need more information whilst rerouting the ambulance. The control centre normally has manual control of routes if the need to, is updated on road closures by the police when they happen, and if all else fails can tell them where to go by radio whilst staring at a big OS map on a screen in front of them (dispatchers normally have at least three screens, one ALWAYS displaying a map with caller and vehicle locations).

The control centre staff can also do everything by paper if the computers go down; they have big maps, books, wipe off cards and flowcharts etc in their desks and there should be at least two backup control centres in different locations, though the last backup is normally the police or fire service. In North West England for example there is a control centre in Preston, Manchester and Liverpool, each with about 100 control staff.

A big problem with routing is callers not knowing where they are - if you call from a mobile or from behind some badly configured corporate switchboard that actually connects the call to the telco at a different address, then the dispatcher tends to be looking at a big red X over a mobile cell tower; they can still send an ambulance racing towards it, but if the call taker can't locate you from what you're saying it can take a while to find you.

In this case though it does look like a computer failure of some kind, as otherwise the first rapid car responder wouldn't have made it straight there.

2
0

My thoughts too John, would paper maps have got them there quicker? probably not. Also the sat nav issue could be compared to roadworks during rush hour causing an ambulance delay, or heavy snow bogging down an ambulance, or a footy match casuing lots of pedestrians to get in the way. Wrong to blame the sat nav, there's alaways going to be something, a 'what if'. A good verdict by the coroner. That said I concur the family did what anyone would do which is ask the questions. My heart goes out to them and their deistating loss.

1
0
Bronze badge
Unhappy

This thread should've been closed for comments.

I'm actually seriously wondering why El. Reg. decided there should be any comments. No real IT angle, just angst.

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.