Coroner stops inquest to ask why ambulance took so long

Those who knew him were deeply saddened by the death of Oliver Woods from Bude in April this year. My tribute to him from that time is here.

Given the nature of the 21-year-old’s death from a reported overdose of MDMA (known as Ecstasy) it understandably was referred to an inquest.

According to Cornwall Live, “the inquest was told South Western Ambulance Service were called at 4.53am, and received three subsequent emergency calls at 5 am, then 5.09am, and 5.28am, according to police. The ambulance crew was not dispatched for at least 30 minutes and did not arrive at the address until 5.39am, it was claimed.”

Devon Live explained:  “A coroner has adjourned an inquest into the death of a 21-year-old man in order to question medical professionals and the ambulance service which took 46 minutes to dispatch paramedics to a 999 call. Coroner John Tomalin was holding the inquest into the death of Oliver John Joseph Woods at South Molton Town Hall (yesterday) when he decided to adjourn to ask some crucial questions”.

The question is whether some earlier intervention could have saved Oliver’s life.

Devon Live continued:  “DC Gary Page, of Launceston CID, told the coroner that CCTV footage showed Mr Woods left his home at 6.26pm that day. Connor Salt, saw him in BED (Bude’s End Destination, a nightclub) later that night”. There is more information about Oliver’s alleged drugs usage here.

The newspaper added: “CCTV footage of a communal hallway showed Mr Woods next entered Saratoga House, 1 Downs View, which police refer to as a “problem premises”, at 3.37am. At 4.13am he is seen going upstairs and returns downstairs at 4.20am, now in an “apparent playful state”, according to DC Page. Within 20 minutes this has become an “agitated, erratic state”. According to Ricky Chard, whose flat Mr Wood was in, he told the group he had “dropped three pills”. Mr Chard said: “He wasn’t making any sense. He began to lose it completely and kicked a hole in my wall. We called an ambulance.” PC Christopher Moore and his colleague were informed at 5.30am of a reported drug overdose at Saratoga House. The officers were met outside by two males and taken inside.

PC Moore said: “Oliver Woods was sat on a mattress on the floor. I could see he was well-presented. My first thought was that he appeared to be completely out of place with the otherwise dirty and unsavoury surroundings of these premises and its occupants. I could see he was in the midst of a serious medical episode. This was a medical emergency and he needed to get into an ambulance immediately. When the ambulance arrived I had to handcuff and restrain him so the paramedics could assist him because he was resisting.”

Paramedics described him as “agitated”, with a high temperature and fast heartbeat, and he was taken to North Devon District Hospital at 5.44am. The intensive care unit team tried to cool him down and intubated him. He suffered a cardiac arrest and they started CPR immediately. He did not respond and they stopped attempting resuscitation at 8.20am”.

The Healthcare Trust now faces serious questions pertaining to ambulance delay, and the coroner will hopefully have his questions answered.  Meanwhile, the sadness continues for Oliver’s family.

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