Feds concerned by 111 coverage

March 22, 2014

Federated farmers is concerned about emergency responsiveness and 111 coverage after it took a farmer about 30 minutes to get through to an operator after she trod in a wasps’ nest.

. . . “Given the 111 service is a rural lifeline, Federated Farmers was troubled to learn Janet Kelland struggled to get through for upwards of 30 minutes,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Rural Security spokesperson.

“Telecom/Spark’s Telecommunications Service Obligation is relevant here because it must answer 111 calls within 15 seconds. 

“Federated Farmers is calling on Telecom/Spark to make sure it meets its TSO obligations and a formal complaint from Janet would help to trigger this. 

“Cellular network performance at the time needs to be looked into as well as the mapping software being used by the ambulance call centre.  A farmer repeatedly stung by wasps could have died for want of a connection.

“After getting clear Janet rang 111 and sometimes it would ring she told us and sometimes there was silence.  While cell reception can be random in rural areas she has reception on her farm and good reception from where she tried to call from.

“Janet told Federated Farmers that it took 30-minutes before she got through to an operator.  Even then after asking for an ambulance she was cut off. 

“She did get through but when she gave her address the operator insisted it did not exist.  While Janet resorted to some agricultural language, who could blame her given she was in agony.

“Clearly there are several issues that need to be looked at.  There also seems to be a pressing need to review mapping software because Janet’s address is in the White Pages.

“We note the 2012 review said that the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment will be working with emergency service providers and the telecommunications sector to investigate new technology. 

“Now seems a good time to start,” Mrs Milne concluded.

Mobile coverage is variable in the country but with RAPID (Rural Address Property Identification Numbers) there should be no problem with an address.

We’ve called 111 twice.

The first time was the night our son stopped breathing.

I started CPR while my farmer called for help. In those days 111 calls went to the local hospital and the man who answered the phone used to shear for us. As soon as he knew it was my farmer he said he’d tell the ambulance how to get there and told my farmer to hang up, ring our GP.

The second time was last December towards the end of a party when one of the guests stumbled, fell and knocked himself out.

I dialled 111, got straight through, had no problem with the address and the ambulance was here in less than 30 minutes.

However, both those calls were from landlines.

Staff who’ve had to call emergency services from our farm have managed to do so without problems, but there’s an element of luck in that they happened to be where they had reasonable coverage when they needed it.

Even in the 21st century you can’t expect 100% mobile coverage but you shouldn’t have to argue about your address.


Safety First Can Be Dangerous Practice

June 15, 2008

When our baby stopped breathing in the middle of the night we dialled 111. The call was answered at our local hospital by a man who’d shorn our sheep. As soon as he ascertained what was needed he cleared our line, so we could phone our GP and then a neighbour who was a nurse, while he directed the ambulance to us.

 

That was 21 years ago. If we made an emergency call now it would be answered in a distant city. The chances of getting someone at the other end with any local knowledge are remote so we’d spend much longer on the phone describing where we live; and may well not then get the line freed so we could phone neighbours.

 

The knowledge that professional help is further away and less reliable than it was in the past has concerned rural communities for some time. But the case a couple of years ago of the woman who was prevented from calling her neighbours after dialling 111 and then had to wait an hour for police has strengthened the belief we’d be better calling a neighbour first and the authorities second.

 

The first response by professionals to an emergency is usually and quite properly to ensure the situation doesn’t deteriorate so police must be wary of endangering neighbours or unleashing a posse of vigilantes, especially if fire arms are involved. But sadly this policy is another example of modern life which requires everyone to follow set procedure, so they can’t be held responsible if something goes amiss; and leaves no room for local knowledge or initiative.

The police have been accused of this safety at all costs approach over the delay in an ambulance reaching Navtej Singh after he was shot.

Jim Hopkins said:

You need to understand, Sir, we want the police – we need the police – to be as willing to put themselves in harm’s ways as those who can’t do without their Saturday six-pack. We don’t want your officers outside, behind the line, while Mr X is inside, leaving money on the counter to pay for his RTDs.

This isn’t how it’s supposed to be, Mr Broad. This isn’t what we expect of the police and neither, we suspect, is it what they expect of themselves.

Something’s happened, Mr Broad. Some OSH-ish fretfulness has crept into your operations that is tainting your purpose and tarnishing the reputation of your force.

 

And Michael Laws asks if the thin blue line has gone yellow:

 

In the immediate wake of the shooting of Navtej Singh one might reasonably believe so. Because the initial police response after receiving their emergency summons seems to condemn the police as institutional cowards.

There can be no excuse that “standard operating procedure” negates the required Good Samaritan duty. We would condemn a stranger for not immediately offering assistance. How much worse is it then, that those we pay to protect the public essentially refuse to do so. At least, until they’re ready.

Indeed there was an element of not simply the PC, but OSH, in the Manurewa police’s studied inertia last Saturday night. They first wanted to ensure that they were not in personal danger before Navtej Singh was attended. That the gunman was no longer in the vicinity. That they were armed. And that they had a strategy.

While they went through this process, they ensured that an available ambulance similarly did not attend Singh. They played the incident by the rules. Their own.

However, Kerre Woodham says we should give police a break:

Gotcha! Perfect headline to lead with the next morning. Police not human, says dead man’s mate. But to label the police as inhuman?

Dear God. How about the youths who shot Navtej Singh in the chest, scooped up boxes of liquor and left laughing as their victim lay bleeding on the floor? How about the man who came in and took advantage of the armed robbery to steal a box of RTDs?

How about the teenage boy who said he knew who the killers were but didn’t want to say because he wasn’t a snitch? Any of these low-life scum would warrant the term “inhuman” before the attending officers.

But no. The coppers get it, yet again.

She is right – of course the police aren’t inhuman. They do a difficult job in often awful circumstances, dealing with people who have no respect for the law, the people who enforce it or anyone else – but know all their rights.

However, a man died and there is a question over whether he might have survived had the ambulance got to him sooner. Because of that there must be an investigation – not to persecute the police and make their job more difficult, but to find answers that will help next time there is a conflict between ensuring the saftey of emergency crews and assisting victims.  


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