999 caller admits failures in dealing with choking baby call

 

A 999 call handler has admitted she made two “fundamental” errors in responding to a report of a choking baby who later died, an inquest has heard.

Staff at Ramillies Hall private nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Manchester, rang for assistance after nine-month-old Millie Thompson got into breathing difficulties after she was fed shepherd's pie.

An inquest into her death heard that North West Ambulance Service employee, Aaliyah Ormerod, made mistakes in how she graded the call last October.

Ms Ormerod admitted she did not appreciate the seriousness of the situation and did not stay on the line to monitor Millie’s condition.

In a statement read to the court, Ms Ormerod said she began to ask a series of scripted questions when she received the call.

Staff told her the baby was choking, crying, still breathing but was going "a bit purple" and gave her the address of the scene.

But Ms Ormerod continued to ask further scripted questions and learned the child was not breathing normally after she had choked.

Ms Ormerod ended the call by asking the school to ring back immediately if anything changed.

Nursery staff performed first aid on the youngster as they waited for emergency assistance on October 23.

An ambulance arrived 10 minutes later but Millie had gone into cardiac arrest and less than an hour later she was pronounced dead at Stepping Hill Hospital.

Following a review of the call, Ms Ormerod admitted she had made the "fundamental errors".

She stated: "When told the patient was going purple, I did not click this indicated breathing problems."

This should have generated a more immediate response and not a continuation of the scripts she followed, she said.

She went on: "I should have stayed on the line to monitor the patient's breathing and not exit the call."

Explaining that she had suffered a stillbirth herself, she said the thought that her actions could have contributed to a death "has devastated me".

She added she considered it an "isolated error" and said she thought the automatic prompting system should be improved.

Ms Ormerod returned to work about six months ago in the same role, although a doctor ruled her medically unfit to give evidence this week at the inquest or in the foreseeable future.

Addressing the jury on the opening day of the inquest yesterday, Millie’s mother Joanne said all she wanted to know was how her "perfectly healthy" daughter did not come home from the nursery.

A recording of the 999 phone call was played to the jury.

At the end of the call, when the operator says goodbye, she is still being recorded as she says: "Jeez, stop giving me information."

South Manchester coroner John Pollard said he expected her employers to take action over that comment.

Angela Lee, section manager in the emergency control room, said the call operator should have graded a "red response" of an immediate threat to life.

That requires a vehicle response within eight minutes, the inquest heard.

Asked why Ms Ormerod had not chosen that option, Ms Lee said: "The call operator did not follow her training and did not identify Millie had ineffective breathing at the start of the call.

"The word 'purple' or 'blue' or 'gasping for breath' acts as a trigger for an immediate red response before any more questions are asked."

She explained that made no practical difference in this case as to how quickly the ambulance arrived but a rapid response car might have got there one or two minutes sooner.

Ms Lee said the operator did not have an explanation as to why she did not stay on the line but said she felt she had been "bombarded with details".

Mr Pollard said: "What I cannot understand is there can only be in my mind no more important a call than a baby choking?"

The witness said: "I totally agree with you. She should have stayed on the line. It's unacceptable."

The coroner suggested: "This was a complete aberration."

Ms Lee replied: "Yes."

The inquest heard that so far no disciplinary proceedings have been taken against the call operator.

The hearing continues next Tuesday.

Additional reporting by Press Association.

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Full Stack Developer (.NET 4.0, ASP.NET, MVC, Ajax, WCF,SQL)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home