Father incensed over ambulance call
Tama Lawson feared the worst when his toddler fell on her head at a playground.
He called Wellington Free Ambulance on 111, but could not believe the response he received.
The call-taker told him repeatedly an ambulance could not be sent to help his daughter, Awhiora, unless he provided a specific street address for his location at the Naenae shopping mall.
Wellington Free Ambulance has launched an inquiry following the incident on Wednesday night, after being contacted by The Dominion Post with Mr Lawson's concerns.
Mr Lawson did not know the address, but gave as many details as he could. He was then asked to try to find someone who knew the address. He refused because he did not want to leave 1-year-old Awhiora alone.
"We had been on the phone two to three minutes - a lot can happen [in that time] in a spine or head injury in an infant. It was then she [the call-taker] said, ‘Look, I'll do a search to see if I can pinpoint where you are'."
Mr Lawson said he was incensed that the woman had the technology to find out where he was, but did not use it straight away.
He eventually turned down help after his daughter's condition improved, but he was left with concerns about the ambulance service's protocols.
"I was made to feel like I was an absolute bother," he said.
He lodged a formal complaint yesterday afternoon.
The ambulance service declined to release a recording of the call until the investigation was completed in about a week.
Communications centre manager Hank Bader said ambulances were always on the move and a street address was required to make sure the right ambulance responded.
“At this point it appears our operator followed protocol by asking for a street address. We need to investigate further to see if we can learn anything from this incident.”
He said the tape of the call showed the operator asked the caller if anyone nearby could help give him a street address, but the operator did not ask him to leave his child to get that information.
“The call lasted around four minutes and at the end of it the caller told the operator his child was now all right and he ended the call.”
Mr Lawson said he was pleased to hear an inquiry would be held.
"I hope nobody else has to experience the same thing."
Other than a large lump on her head, it appeared his daughter had recovered fully.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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