Family release transcript after 999 call handler '˜hangs up' on dying man

A family has released the transcript of a dying man's 999 call which ended with staff hanging up and then failing to locate him.

Friday, 11th May 2018, 7:06 pm
Updated Friday, 11th May 2018, 8:10 pm
Ronald Russell was found by a neighbour 17 hours after making the 999 call. Picture: Margo Cassidy/Deadline News
Ronald Russell was found by a neighbour 17 hours after making the 999 call. Picture: Margo Cassidy/Deadline News

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Woman demands 999 overhaul after her brother lay dying for 17 hours

As exclusively revealed in The Scotsman earlier this year, Ronald Russell was found 17 hours after placing the emergency call by a neighbour but it was too late to save the vulnerable 49-year-old.

Mr Russell, from Cumbernauld, dialled 999 after he collapsed. In the transcript he can be heard moaning loudly.

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The transcript.

The operator repeatedly asks Mr Russell for his phone number - even though it was automatically displayed - and asks three times if he wants an ambulance.

His family have released the transcript as part of their bid to pressure the authorities into changing emergency call procedures.

They want the first question to be asked the caller’s address rather than number. The transcipt suggests Mr Russell would have been able to provide his address in the first seconds of his call but could not remember his phone number.

Mr Russell, who lived alone and had mental health issues, dialled 999 at 5.45pm on July 4, 2017 and had requested the ambulance service.

The call handler asked: “What’s the telephone number you’re calling from please?”

Mr Russell replied: “Can you hold on until I get that?” The call handler says “Sorry?” and he continues: “I’ve got this, I’ve I’ve got this, got it written down.”

At one point Mr Russell’s response is recorded as: “Ooooooh ohhh (incomprehensible sound from caller).

Despite that the handler asks: “Hello do you require an ambulance?”

At the end of the three-minute call the handler hangs up. Three calls were made in an attempt to get Mr Russell back on the phone but there was no follow up by a supervisor to make an attempt at finding the address

The Scottish Ambulance Service’s own incident report admits there could have been more attempts made to get Ronald’s address.

Mr Russell then lay for 17 hours until a concerned neighbour overheard his alarm clock. He had suffered a stroke and died later in hospital.

Yesterday Mr Russell’s sister Margo Cassidy, 52, said: “It was really devastating to read that, especially because I think most people imagine that when you phone an ambulance the first thing they will ask is, “Where are you?”

“When we met with the SAS the first time they told us that it had just been marked up as a silent call, but we got the transcript and when we found out that he was initially able to speak that made me really angry.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: “A full review has been conducted to look at the handling of the call and this included meeting with the staff involved to identify learning. We have now also brought in new national procedures for calls with no confirmed location.”