Dad who called 999 for heart attack found dead after 5 hour wait

Dad who called 999 for heart attack found dead after 5 hour wait

Father who dialled 999 saying he was having a heart attack was found dead in Lidl car park after paramedics took five hours to reach him despite hospital being 15 minutes away, inquest hears

  • Martin Coleman, 54, laid down in the back of his van and died waiting 

A father who told 999 operators he thought he was having a heart attack in a Lidl car park was found dead by paramedics who took five hours to reach him despite him being 15 minutes away from a hospital, an inquest heard.

Martin Coleman, 54, started feeling chest pains and heart palpitations while driving home so pulled into a supermarket car park to call for an ambulance.

The handyman was told to get comfortable whilst he waited so climbed into the backseat of his van and lay down – where paramedics found him five hours later.

Coleman’s death in a Lidl car park in Taverham, Norfolk, took place only a 15-minute drive away from Norfolk’s biggest hospital.

In an inquest into his death this week, his daughter Roxanne told Norfolk Coroner Yvonne Blake: ‘My dad was a strong, proud man who would only call for an ambulance if he really needed it.

Martin Coleman, 54, started feeling chest pains so called an ambulance from the car park of Taversham Lidl 

‘I loved him more than life itself. I greatly admired his desire to help anybody.

‘He was so much more than a father and a grandfather.

‘He is not going to be a statistic, he is a human being who is missed and loved more than anything.’

The handyman from Reepham, Norfolk called 999 at 10.15pm on June 30 last year and told a call handler: ‘I think I am having a heart attack’.

The ambulance service was on ‘black alert’ at the time due to the acute pressures it was facing and no ambulance service was available to come to his aid.

He was told to keep his phone line free so did not call any friends or family who could have taken him to Norfolk and Norwich University hospital eight miles away.

When a call handler rang back at 11.15pm Coleman didn’t pick up.

Paramedics arrived at 3.30am to find him dead in his van.

The inquest heard his call had been picked up by a handler in Newcastle as part of an arrangement between trusts to help deal with demand at busy times.

The call was correctly prioritised as a category two call.

These are the second most urgent type of calls and should be responded to in no more than 40 minutes – with a target of 18 minutes.

At 10.29pm the call handler told Mr Coleman an ambulance would be on its way and instructed him to make himself comfortable and to keep his phone line free.

Chris Hewitson, patient safety manager at the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST), told the court that at the time of Mr Coleman’s call the service did not have a single ambulance free to attend.

He also said there were also no community first responders available at the time.

Mr Coleman’s daughter questioned why her father’s call was not escalated when he did not answer the attempted callback.

She asked whether callers could be asked to provide an alternative contact number -such as a next of kin – when making an emergency call on their own.

Mr Hewitson said this was not something that was currently done but could be considered.

Meanwhile David Allen, head of operations at EEAST, highlighted the pressures the service continues to face – despite efforts to make improvements.

He said: ‘Sometimes we can have up to 30 ambulances waiting outside the Norfolk and Norwich hospital at any one time.

‘There are over 400 patients across the three Norfolk hospitals who are medically fit to leave but cannot be discharged.’

He said the ambulance trust was making efforts to treat more people in the community and had been able to reduce the number needing hospital admission by 22 per cent.

Yvonne Blake, area coroner for Norfolk, concluded that Mr Coleman had died of a heart attack – but that she could not give a precise time of his death.

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