Asthma victim waited 30 mins for medics

A YOUNG man who suffered a severe asthma attack would have stood a better chance of survival if he had not waited 30 minutes for an ambulance, an inquest heard.

A YOUNG man who suffered a severe asthma attack would have stood a better chance of survival if he had not waited 30 minutes for an ambulance, an inquest heard.

David Halley-Frame, 25, suddenly suffered a severe attack while in Upper Orwell Street, Ipswich, in August last year, the inquest at Ipswich Crown Court heard yesterday .

He waited nearly 30 minutes for an ambulance, which had to come from Bury St Edmunds due to an “unprecedented” surge in the number of emergency call outs.

Greater Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean described Mr Halley-Frame as well-liked, well-loved and a very positive person.

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Delivering a narrative verdict, he said: “David Halley-Frame died from an asthma attack. He was transferred to hospital having been delayed by the fact that the nearest ambulances to him were already in use and not able to assist.

“One could not say whether he would have survived but his chances of survival would have been significantly increased by an earlier transfer to hospital.”

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Dr Russell Hall, a consultant physician at Ipswich Hospital who is now retired, said patients in Mr Halley-Frame's situation were very difficult to ventilate and in a “very dangerous state”.

He said: “Once a cardio respiratory arrest has happened and time has passed then the chances of recovery are minimal, if anything. As long as the patient is still breathing it is my experience that the majority are resuscitatable.”

The inquest was attended by numerous members of Mr Halley-Frame's family, including his mother Diane, his best friend Jermaine Robinson and his girlfriend, Natasha Bate.

It heard that the healthcare assistant, who lived in King's Way, Ipswich, had gone into the town centre with his 23-year-old best friend on the night of August 26, before meeting up with Mr Robinson's father, Brian, and his father's girlfriend Abigail Smith.

It was outside a kebab shop in Upper Orwell Street that Mr Halley-Frame, who had a long history of acute asthma which had seen him hospitalised in the past, started to have an attack.

Ms Smith called 999 and the call was logged as a category A, life-threatening, incident at 2.53am. But Mr Halley-Frame's condition steadily deteriorated as they waited for the ambulance and she desperately called again and again to update them and see if help was arriving soon.

The final time she called was when Mr Halley-Frame collapsed onto the floor.

He was put into the recovery position and Leighton Dewar, who was passing by, tried to resuscitate him. Mr Halley-Frame “came round” twice but he did not regain consciousness.

In a statement from Mr Dewar, which was read out in court, he said: “If we had known that the ambulance was going to take so long and wasn't going to get to us for 20 minutes we would have called the police or fire brigade or gone in a taxi and taken him straight to hospital.”

The ambulance arrived at 3.24am. The crew phoned ahead to Ipswich Hospital to ensure a resuscitation team was ready for them but despite being given treatment straightaway, Mr Halley-Frame died soon after.

In summing up the inquest, Dr Dean said when Mr Halley-Frame had a cardio respiratory arrest it would have sent him to sleep.

“It is a small solace to the family that David himself would not have been aware of what was happening,” he said.

On reviewing the case, Rob Lawrence, operations director for the East Anglian Ambulance Trust (EAAT) told the inquest that at the time the service had six vehicles on shift in the east Suffolk area and a further four in the west of the county.

But as the ambulances in east Suffolk were dealing with five category A and one category B - serious - calls the nearest ambulance to Mr Halley-Frame was in Bury St Edmunds. Essex ambulances were not any closer, he added.

“With the exception of the category B call, it was felt to be exceptionally rare when all the resources are tied up on potentially life threatening calls,” he said.

Mr Lawrence said Mr Halley-Frame's condition was not re-categorised at any point, even though the person who took Ms Smith's increasingly anxious calls had at one point said alcohol may be contributing to his condition. Mr Halley-Frame was nearly twice over the drink-drive limit but it was not deemed to be a factor.

Since then, the trust had taken action in a bid to prevent a similar situation. This has included a soon-to-be-launched pilot scheme in Lowestoft which will see firefighters trained up to give basic life-saving care, and a lay responder scheme, but this would not have been able to help Mr Halley-Frame.

His friends and family were too upset after the inquest to comment.

After the verdict Mr Lawrence said: “We will do everything in our power to try to ensure such an incident does not happen again.”

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