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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Elderly patient dies after man blocked air ambulance landing space for half an hour

By Daily Mail Reporter

A seriously ill patient was forced to wait almost half-an-hour for Blackpool's Air Ambulance - because a man refused to move from its landing space.

Bosses at the service are dumbfounded by the actions of the man, who refused to remove himself from the vehicle's landing zone at the De Vere Hotel on Sunday evening.

The elderly patient - awaiting urgent transfer from Blackpool Victoria Hospital to Royal Lancaster Infirmary - was kept in an ambulance for 24 minutes while its aerial counterpart was trying to land. He died at the Lancaster hospital later in the day.

Emergency: A pilot for the North West Air Ambulance said he was furious after a man refused to move his car, file photo

The man had been rushed to hospital, but surgeons decided he needed to be transferred to experts at the Lancaster facility.

Air ambulance chief pilot John Taylor said: 'We thought we were dealing with a lunatic at the landing site but it turned out to be a very aggressive Polish man who refused to move from the landing zone. He had also parked next to the gate access to the site.

'We were trying to land and I was signalling him to move along but he refused.

'It looked like he was doing some sort of exercise with his shoes off and was there with his family and dogs.

'He just shook his head at us. We couldn't land because we weren't sure what he'd do - if he had thrown a shoe at the rotors, the ambulance would have become a £5m death trap.

'It was so frustrating. I can't say what I'd like to about him because I'll be in trouble.'

Experts: The patient was being transferred to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary from the Blackpook Victoria Hospital but later died

Police were called to the scene and arrived within 15 minutes to remove the man from the scene.

The helicopter had taken off from its Blackpool Airport base at 5.48pm and only managed to land at 6.12pm.

The air ambulance is called when speed is of the essence. It offers no greater care for patients, but gives them time - an essential factor in emergency cases.

Mr Taylor added: 'What we give people is time. And that's something that was taken from this patient.

'We know the delay wasn't the cause of his death, but it is so important that we can get through when we need to.

'I just don't understand it. People sometimes obstruct the police because they don't like them - all we do is try to give patients the best chance they can get.

'The whole idea of the air ambulance is the time. Any delay is taking away the service we can give people.

'I spoke to the (Polish) man after we'd landed and he was very aggressive towards me.'

A spokeswoman for Lancashire Police confirmed officers were contacted by the ambulance service in order to move the man on.

He was issued with a fixed penalty notice for disorder and it is understood his car was impounded.

Landing site: The helicopter was trying to land at the De Vere Hotel



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