Investigation after 999 staff directed emergency caller from Ingleton to a defibrillator in another village when there was one seconds away
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
AN investigation has been launched by the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) following a mix-up over the location of lifesaving defibrillators.
It centres on an incident in Ingleton in which a 999 caller was told the nearest heart-start machine was more than two miles away when, in fact, there has been one in the centre of the village for more than 18 months. The issue came to light at last week’s Ingleton Parish Council meeting.
Cllr Ian Cartwright, who is responsible for carrying out monthly checks on the defibrillator, said that instead of being directed to the equipment at the Black Horse pub, the caller had been directed to neighbouring Summerhouse, 2.1 miles away.
However, knowing the whereabouts of the village apparatus, the caller had gone to collect the defib from the Black Horse.
In the event, the patient died before the defib was deployed and there was no suggestion the mix-up was in any way responsible.
Cllr Cartwright told colleagues: “I contacted them [NEAS] with the monthly check sheets for January and February and said I was disappointed that he was directed to Summerhouse.
“He [the caller] knew about the Black Horse. If in future someone phoned and they were directed away, the timescale would make a difference.”
He said after logging the incident, NEAS said they would report back with an explanation as to what had happened and why the caller had been directed away from the village. It takes about two-and-a-half minutes to drive from Ingleton to Summerhouse, whereas the Black Horse is accessible in under a minute.
Parish council chairman Cllr Steve Leech described the incident, which happened near the end of February, as “regrettable”. He suggested the parish council put another note in the village newsletter to alert residents to the location of the defibrillator at the Black Horse.
The defibrillator was installed at the Black Horse in August 2017 and monthly checks have been carried out ever since to ensure it is in good working order, with the check sheets submitted to the NEAS.
A NEAS spokesperson said: “Patient safety is our highest priority. Knowing the benefits of community-based defibrillators, we would like to assure residents in the area that the community-based resources referred to in Ingleton and Summerhouse are registered within our systems and visible to call handlers wanting to support callers to 999.
“We are aware of these concerns and we are investigating the circumstances around this case.”