Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 30 October 2014

Coroner’s ‘alarm’ over paramedics’ attitude to woman

Paramedics believed a woman who later collapsed and died was wasting their time, it has emerged.

Details of a phone call made to ambulance control were revealed at the inquest of Carla McAdam (28), who died of an ectopic pregnancy less than two hours later.

The ambulance crew also pretended to leave the seven months pregnant woman without treating her in a failed bid to get her to cooperate better with them.

Senior coroner John Leckey described the ploy as “alarming”.

Carla collapsed at the Bangor home she shared with fiance Michael Reilly in September 2008, after a night suffering severe |pain, breathing difficulties and panic attacks.

She later died in hospital along with her still-born baby, Beth.

Recordings of the 999 emergency call made by Mr Reilly |were played in court yesterday, as well as calls between paramedics and the ambulance control room and between the Ulster and Royal hospitals.

In one call, paramedic David Martin Andrew Lowe is heard telling ambulance control Carla is “pratting us about big time”. Family members shouted “shame on you” across the court.

When questioned about his words, Mr Lowe said: “She would be smiling and when I turned around she would stop smiling and start hyperventilating again.”

This caused Mr Reilly to say Mr Lowe was talking “rubbish” and there was an exchange of words between the two.

Coroner Leckey had to call the court to order, before Mr Lowe could continue with his evidence.

“A couple of times I saw Carla smiling. It put doubts in my head but didn’t put enough doubt in my head to warrant me not taking her to hospital,” said Mr Lowe, who has worked with the ambulance service for 17 years.

“Although I said it on the tape I had already decided that she was going to hospital, that she needed to go to hospital.”

He also defended his decision to bluff leaving, telling the coroner it was “just a ploy”.

“It has worked in the past to get somebody to calm down, do what we say and actually start following instructions, help us to help them,” he said.

Coroner Leckey said: “Rather than reassuring me it would make me worse. Whether that’s an appropriate ploy I have my doubts.”

When Mr Lowe replied that it was something “other ambulance staff have used”, Mr Leckey said: “I find that alarming.”

The inquest continues.

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