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Airport response over death 'fell short'

Friday 7 Dec 2012 2:36 p.m.

Efforts by emergency services to save a 35-year-old man who collapsed and died at Wellington Airport in 2009 "fell well short", a coroner has ruled.

Wellington coroner Garry Evans on Friday released a ruling into the death of Carterton man Trevor William Morris, who collapsed shortly after disembarking a flight from Christchurch.

His cause of death was ruled to be ischaemic heart disease (reduced blood supply), which caused him to collapse in the airport terminal about 7.15pm on August 17, 2009.

Members of the public called emergency services and attempted first aid, but he did not receive CPR until nine minutes after his collapse, with the first shock from a defibrillator more than 11 minutes after his collapse.

Airport fire officers who arrived five minutes after his collapse had "insufficient urgency" and spent too much time unpacking equipment instead of administering CPR, Mr Evans said.

Wellington Free Ambulance officers arrived 13 minutes after his collapse, again with "insufficient urgency" and too much time unpacking, rather than continuing CPR, good oxygen delivery and defibrillation.

Numerous attempts were made by them and an off-duty anaesthetist to intubate Mr Morris, which interrupted the chest compressions.

"There is little doubt that Trevor Morris was not given the best possible chance of surviving his out-of-hospital cardiac arrest due to delay in effective CPR and defibrillation," Mr Evans said.

"In my opinion, the attempted rescuscitation of Trevor Morris fell well short of effective practice."

He added that defibrillation administered within three to five minutes of collapse would have given Mr Morris best chance of survival.

Mr Evans recommended that defibrillators be readily accessible at major airports, and that all staff should be trained to use them and administer CPR.

Wellington Airport fire personnel and other airport workers have since improved their first-aid training, and the airport has installed six defibrillators.

NZN

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