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Don''t depend on Aussie ambos!

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LaraOnline

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The Australian Ambulance service - well, more specifically, the emergency phonecall 000 service (I think it's 911 in US?) has come in for a total bagging in coronary court in Sydney.

A 17-year-old boy, from one of Australia's most prestigious schools, no less, wandered off a bushwalking track and died while he repeatedly called for help on his mobile phone.
Because he couldn't tell the 000 operators where he was exactly, the operators treated his call like a prank, talking over him, admonishing him and responding sarcastically to his plight.

All up, he made six calls and they didn't even pass the full information on to the police!!
It took a week to find this kid's body.

By the way, the operators were all women, in another news story it says two of whom were also involved in a bodged up 'remote area' rescue in 2007.

linky to full story
 

strmrdr

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That''s why all new cell phones in the US are required to have gps and the cell companies were required to upgrade their equipment to send it to the 911 operators.
Similar things have happened in the US.
 

LaraOnline

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Actually, your comment reminds me of a story I heard about two ice addicts who died in snow when they got lost trying to find another hit in the middle of the night...good girl gone bad type scenario... really sad...
yeah, apparently the technology has been around since the turn of the century to track mobiles, and of course the very latest mobiles are offering that kind of GPS connection, but it''s ''too expensive'' or some such to make it ''across the board'' mobile-wise..? 60 per cent of emergency calls are made with mobiles these days, apparently they can track the land line ones though...
 

HollyS

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I don''t really care how many crank calls these operators get each day; if they want this job, they should give it the gravity and seriousness it deserves.

Jail time, lengthy probation, and a gazillion hours of community service should befall these operators. There is no reasonable excuse for their behavior.

And the family should file a civil suit for damages against them.
 

honey22

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Your information is correct, yet your intepretation of the situation a little misguided. Don''t get stuck into our ambos! They work incredibly hard on a sometimes horrendous job! My best mate is an ambo and they have to work 14 hours shifts, mostly understaffed, drive at high speeds through traffic and then attend horrific accidents, witnessing a lot of the time, horrible deaths. They have to think on their feet and make life and death decisions under high levels of stress.

The ambos are not at fault here!!!!!!!!!! In Australia we have a central service that answers the calls for all our emergency response crews. This is where the problem occured. The 000 operator failed in their job to accurately handle the situation. It was their fault the ambos were never called.

This is a tragic accident that never should have happened, but in the end those operators are only human too. They deal with thousands of prank calls everyday, and although she stuffed up royaly, we have all made mistakes in our job.

To say that our ambos can''t be trusted is a little harsh. The whole system is under pressue and most of the time they do a fantastic job. Most of the time, they should be applauded.

The school has to bear some of the responsibility here, they were the ones who forgot to give the student his GPS before leaving.
 

honey22

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Date: 4/18/2009 12:39:58 PM
Author: HollyS
I don''t really care how many crank calls these operators get each day; if they want this job, they should give it the gravity and seriousness it deserves.

Jail time, lengthy probation, and a gazillion hours of community service should befall these operators. There is no reasonable excuse for their behavior.

And the family should file a civil suit for damages against them.
Wow Holly - have you never made a mistake at work? Do you think your mistakes are work warrent jail time? We are lucky to have a service at all, if we decide to litigate these people if they make a mistake, no-one is going to take the job and then we end up with nothing. If you have the threat of jailtime everytime you go to work, you would never bloody go!

I am not saying that this woman shouldn''t go unpunished and she certainly stuffed up, this should have been avoided, but you are going way to far.

No-one knows the full story, you never know the circumstances surrounding the event, you only here what information trickles overseas.
 

LaraOnline

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Don''t get me wrong Honey, I know the drivers (the actual ''Ambulance'' personnel that attend emergencies) are not the people who answer the phones! But the operators are employed and trained by the ambulance assocation. They then are also ''ambos''.

this boy called six times. The telephone operators did not pass much of his information on tot he police or rescue crews, it took a week to locate his body when apparently the boy had actually given enough of a description of his position to be located correctly.

But because the description of his position was not a street name and number (which is what the computer essentially calls for) they couldn''t get past their computer requirements to think more laterally about what was needed for this call.

Two of these operators had apparently (according to newspaper reports) been involved in a bodgie remote rescue a couple of years earlier as well. There is a problem in that the computer system is not flexible enough to tolerate anything but a metro system of street name and number for location....that''s a big problem!

It seems that because he wasn''t fitting in with their systems, it was easier just to chalk it up to a prank call.
 

arjunajane

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I agree with Lara - I thought straight away that is simply not good enough (on the part of the call operators).

On another note, sorry if this is ignorant, but why can''t emergency services have access to the kind of systems police do
where you can track where the mobile phone is?
That certainly would''ve helped this boy - am I missing something about that technology?
 

strmrdr

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Date: 4/19/2009 3:05:40 AM
Author: arjunajane
I agree with Lara - I thought straight away that is simply not good enough (on the part of the call operators).


On another note, sorry if this is ignorant, but why can''t emergency services have access to the kind of systems police do

where you can track where the mobile phone is?

That certainly would''ve helped this boy - am I missing something about that technology?
If the phone and system doesn''t have gps they need to find the signal on 2 towers to even start to get a general location, with 3 towers they can get within a few hundred yards.
The problem is that out in the sticks there is not 2 towers the signal can reach or they are in a strait line along the highway which does not help narrow it down.
 

strmrdr

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Here is the best that can be done with 1 tower and no GPS, more towers where the possible locations overlap help narrow it down.

celltowerNoGPS.jpg
 

HollyS

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Date: 4/18/2009 7:55:39 PM
Author: honey22

Date: 4/18/2009 12:39:58 PM
Author: HollyS
I don''t really care how many crank calls these operators get each day; if they want this job, they should give it the gravity and seriousness it deserves.

Jail time, lengthy probation, and a gazillion hours of community service should befall these operators. There is no reasonable excuse for their behavior.

And the family should file a civil suit for damages against them.
Wow Holly - have you never made a mistake at work? Do you think your mistakes are work warrent jail time? We are lucky to have a service at all, if we decide to litigate these people if they make a mistake, no-one is going to take the job and then we end up with nothing. If you have the threat of jailtime everytime you go to work, you would never bloody go!

I am not saying that this woman shouldn''t go unpunished and she certainly stuffed up, this should have been avoided, but you are going way to far.

No-one knows the full story, you never know the circumstances surrounding the event, you only here what information trickles overseas.
These operators are very often the only lifeline people have for help in a life and death situation. Like this one. Deliberatly ignoring, deciding that someone''s playing a joke, and therefore not sending the proper help is NOT A MISTAKE. It''s AN ATTITUDE PROBLEM, which then becomes THE CAUSE OF SOMEONE''S DEATH. And that is a huge difference between a typo, or giving the wrong change, or missing a deadline, etc in someone else''s workplace.

Harshness is completely necessary in these cases. Maybe harshness will make the next dispatcher take their job more seriously.
 

LaraOnline

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Actually, another interesting story in relation to this case surfaced the other day...
apparently, there is a school of thought that says '000' operators should be medically trained, they could have given advice to that boy, allowing him to stay alive.

He apparently lapsed into unconsciousness shortly after his last call, due to lack of water... (during this call he had been put on hold twice, and I think from memory no-one had taken his name or details, basically because they couldn't get a street address from him, obviously the first piece of info the computer requires...)

Anyway, if you are ever in a desert and about to die, please lie down on a slope so that the blood flows to your brain...

Also, a GPS is unlikely to have assisted the operators do their job, as again it does not supply a street address for rural locations. Other stories have emerged, including where the callers have actually had GPS co-ordinates, but have been unable to get the operators to move past the need for a metro-style street name and number.


link to general news story explaining the ambo computer requirements

another group call ambos with GPS co-ordinates but get nowhere

police would have launched a search if they had been told of the call, no address necessary

this is kind of interesting too... it seems that there must be so many hoax calls that the phone operators get sick of getting their leg pulled, to the detriment of the ambulance service...
news story: culture of ambo sarcasm familiar to accident victim
 

strmrdr

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that is disgusting.
GPS to map software is under $100 and covers anywhere on earth.
google maps will do it for fee.

google maps or google earth will even let you tie it into satellite images.
 

LaraOnline

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Oh man, it gets worse.

In the link I posted yesterday, it said police were delayed..."The ambulance service only made two of the calls available to police four days after David went missing. Sgt Colless said it should be standard procedure for police rescue officers to be provided with Triple-0 calls as soon as possible." - Daily Telegraph

Now it seems the police actually had to fill in forms to be provided the information...

link to news story
 

whitby_2773

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hi lara :) (have you had your baby yet?? i''m guessing YES!)

just 2 things - yes, i think the operators were at fault, but my question is - if he could call 000, why not call mom and dad (or ANYbody else)? there is no better advocate than one''s parents in a situation like this and you can BET emergency services would not have been ignoring the call if it had been made by his parents. if he was getting no joy with 000, why keep calling? also - when you call 000, you''re asked what service you want - ambo, fire or police. he could just as easily have asked for the police himself. yes, i know the counter arguments - he needed medical assistance, he was only 17, and so on and so on. but even so and just sayin''...

i heard a report a month or two ago here in NY about a growing trend for 911 to be used for prank calls; friends call and give their friends'' names and addresses to make emergency services turn up at the houses of their friends. it''s a kind of ''punked'' prank. but the number quoted for the last year was in the hundreds of thousands. i mean - it was appalling. apparently there are simply not enough emergency services to respond to every call. so to recommend operators get jail time and harsh penalties for not sending emergency services to every call is spurious; it simply cant be done. part of their job IS weeding out the real from the not real.

i agree in this situation that something went wrong. but i suspect it''s more in the form of a tragedy than willful negligence.
 

Monnyjay

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I have to say yes this is a terrible tradegy, but I''m with Honey on this one. Our aussie ambos do a fantastic job and they should be rewarded accordingly. Imagine what they face on daily basis attending to pool drownings/car accidents/suicides etc. I''t would so emotionally draining, especially with children involved.

Being a parent myself I feel for the poor parents of the 17 year old boy, they have lost a son and the situation should never have happended. Their lives will never be the same.

I think the school has been very irresponsible above all and I would be pointing the finger at them they have a duty of care to our children during school hours.
 

LaraOnline

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Sorry, I know I''m super-late back to this thread, but I think when it comes to massive organisations like health organisations, or call centres for health, that it''s more about systems than individuals when it comes to managing failure.

I am sorry if my title mislead anyone into thinking that I was actively criticizing individual ambulance officers, or indeed any other individual personnel that work for the company... because surely, in health, it is the SYSTEMS, rather than the individuals, that are most important in overcoming the natural human-error factor.

For example, if prank calls have now become so common that phone operators are no longer able to ascertain if a call is genuine, should they really be expected to screen for pranks? Surely the systems have to be changed in some way to better discourage or identify prank calls?

If GPS locations cannot be entered into the computer, and if the computer will not accept any information until a city-type street address is entered, perhaps this is something that should be looked at, for the sake of country emergencies.

Finally, perhaps the police should be made fully aware of ambulance records, or records of interest, rather than having to fill in paperwork and follow up on missing persons via application days after the emergency call...

anyway, I know this story is long over, but it was / is a sad example of how our implicit trust in ''the authorities'' can sometimes be misplaced...
 
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