Pending Calls for Ambulance Lead to Death of a Man after Drinking a Dose of Disinfectant

Pending Calls for Ambulance Lead to Death of a Man after Drinking a Dose of DisinfectantAn inquest heard that up to 50 calls were pending to respond for ambulances, which led to the death of a man who drank a fatal dose of disinfectant. The man first rang 000 for help, but died because no ambulance was available to provide him much needed care.

A toxicologist told the Coroners Court that timely care by ambulance paramedics to take him to the hospital could have avoided the death of Stephen Lim, 56.

He called 000 nine times in three hours on the night of the drawn 2010 AFL Grand Final. However, by the time paramedics finally arrived at his Burwood East home, it was too late as he suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

Mr. Lim pleaded for an ambulance, saying he was in great pain. Daniel McGennisken, of Ambulance Victoria, said that the service faced a massive challenge on that night after 91 staff called in sick. He also suggested meal breaks to be contributing factor.

"The availability of ambulance resources ... was impacted by the requirement for paramedics to be provided two meal breaks during the 14-hour night shift", Mr. McGennisken stated.

He said the service was not able to provide five ambulance units and nine MICA units on the night. The Coroners Court heard that the 000 call-taking system was not appropriate.

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