Friday 24 November 2017

Woman died after waiting in rain for back-up emergency help

Anne Lucey

A WOMAN clad only in her nightdress was left in torrential rain for two hours while an ambulance crew waited for back-up to move her into a waiting vehicle, a coroner's court heard.

Cobie Pols (73), of Kaarel, Doormanstraat 40, The Netherlands, later suffered cardiac failure and died of natural causes, the inquest into her death was told.

Ms Pols, who was extremely overweight, died in the HSE ambulance at the scene.

The inquest heard that it would have been too dangerous for the two-man ambulance crew to move the 25-stone woman down a narrow slippery path and makeshift steps.

But protocol demanded they get approval from the HSE to call out the fire brigade, and a second ambulance requested as back-up also did not arrive for some time, the coroner's court in Killarney was told.

Coroner Terence Casey directed the jury that although cause of death was natural they must also take into account "the circumstances surrounding her death – of getting the deceased out of the mobile home and into the ambulance"

The jury returned a narrative verdict in accordance with the medical findings of the pathologist, of death from cardiac failure, with contributory causes such as diabetes.


Ms Pols was a regular visitor to the home of Wilma and Johnny O'Connor at Ardmoniel, Killorglin. She and her husband Dirk Varley had one time lived in south Kerry, but had moved back to Holland eight years ago.

In the early hours of October 17, 2012 Ms Pols became ill and complained of leg pain.

An ambulance arrived at 4.30am with two crew and they decided the fire brigade had to be called to move her out of the mobile home.

The inquest heard of desperate attempts by the ambulance crew and the O'Connors to move the ill woman first into her custom-made wheelchair, and out of the mobile home and later down a pathway and steep steps, having to remove railings as they attempted the move.

Eventually, six fire fighters formed a chain and moved the wheelchair into the ambulance.

"Cobie was in a panic, getting wet, and in shock," Ms O'Connor said.

Johnny O'Connor said that at one point "all she had on was a night dress" and Ms O'Connor held an umbrella over her.

This was shortly before her suffering cardiac arrest and being pronounced dead at 7.13am.

Mr Casey said this had been a horrific experience on one of the worst nights of the year.

"I am delighted to hear the protocol of calling for help from the fire brigade has been changed," he said.

Irish Independent

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