Ambulance officer cleared in death of toddler
A coroner's report into the drowning of a 22-month-old in Marton has cleared the ambulance officers who tried to resuscitate her of negligence, but is calling St John to review some its policies.
Hannah Maree Thomsen drowned in the pool at her family's Marton home on January 2, 2011.
She had been playing with siblings who were unsupervised by an adult at the time.
Hannah's mother Mary-Anne Illston pleaded guilty to her daughter's manslaughter but was discharged without conviction in November 2011. Palmerston North Coroner Carla na Nagara released her findings into the death today.
Ms na Nagara investigated the actions of the emergency services personnel who attended the scene and their attempts to resuscitate Hannah.
She found that one of Hannah's siblings rang 111 while Ms Illston attempted CPR sometime between 2.10pm and 2.15pm.
St John basic life support officers Alana Westhead and Lance Evans arrived at the house within three to four minutes of being dispatched at 2.20pm.
Mr Evans could not locate a pulse or see any signs Hannah was breathing. Her face was blue indicating to Mr Evans that she was oxygen deprived.
They tried to resuscitate Hannah for about ten minutes before deciding, after consulting with two off duty ambulance officers who had arrived at the scene, to stop efforts to revive her.
The coroner investigated whether the pair had stopped too early, seeking an an independent opinion from Dr John Beca, clinical director of paediatric intensive care at Starship Children's Hospital in Auckland.
Dr Beca found Hannah had a ''very small chance of surviving'', between one to five per cent, and a less than one per cent chance of surviving without brain damage.
However, he did say resuscitation efforts were stopped prematurely, a view shared by national medical advisor for St john Dr Craig Ellis.
Ms na Nagara said the ambulance officers had started resuscitation as soon as possible and had stopped their efforts in line with St John's policy, which states that in cases such as Hannah's resuscitation is not stopped until 10 to 20 minutes after cardiac arrest.
Given they had followed St John's procedures she found they were not to be criticised for their actions on the day.
Ms na Nagara said St John's procedures had since changed and now resuscitation should be continued until 20 minutes after cardiac arrest.
She ruled there were disparities between what the officers at the scene did and the St John procedures, and what medical experts consider to be best practice.
She has suggested St John may wish to review its procedures.
Ms na Nagara also noted St John now have an advanced life support officer stationed at their communications centre 24 hours a day to provide advice to staff at scenes.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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