Man Dies Hours After Being Hung Up On By 999 Operator
A man with mental health issues has died just hours after being hung up on by a 999 call operator.
Ronald Russell called up the Scottish Ambulance Service in distress but was only then found alter by a neighbour after the emergency services failed to locate him.
Sadly, Mr Russell died and now his family have released a transcript of the call I the hope that it will change the procedures of emergency calls to avoid a similar mistake.
The 49-year-old from Cumbernauld, in Scotland, collapsed and could be heard moaning loudly during the call. He was not able to tell the operator where he was.
The operator repeatedly asked him for his phone number despite it being displayed on a screen and asked several times whether he needed an ambulance rather than identifying his location.
The written transcript of the call suggest that Mr Russell would have been capable of providing his address if asked at the beginning of the call, however, he couldn't remember his phone number and was not asked.
He lived on his own, and made the emergency call at about 5:45pm on 4 July 2017.
When asked for his phone number, he left the phone and didn't return. Despite saying 'hello' several times, the operator ended the call after a while, even though Mr Russell could be heard moaning and moving around in the background.
They called back three times to no avail, but no supervisor followed up that action by trying to find his address. Mr Russell laid on the floor of his house for 17 hours before a neighbour found him.
He had suffered a stroke and sadly died in hospital.
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The Scottish Ambulance Service's report said: "It is evident on listening to the call that the call handler can hear noises and moaning.
"The correct process was followed by providing three calls back, however, due to the call handler knowing that the caller was on the line before it disconnects, there could have been more attempts to confirm the address - or for this to be highlighted to a supervisor.
"The supervisor stopped the call, whilst the notes were in the call advising that the call handler can hear noise in the background."
Mr Russell's sister Margot Cassidy said: "It was really devastating to read that, especially because I think most people imagine that when you phone an ambulance the first thing they will ask is, "Where are you?" 'We knew he had phoned an ambulance because we had his mobile.
"When we met with the SAS the first time they told us that it had just been marked up as a silent call, but we got the transcript and when we found out that he was initially able to speak that made me really angry.
"He died because of the lack of oxygen to his brain.
"If you imagine that he had been asked in the first instant where he was, the result could have been totally different."
The Ambulance Service defended the decision to ask for a phone number as it is important in case they need to call back. They also added that their procedures had been changed regarding calls with no confirmed location.
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