111 calls unanswered after daughter collapses

A Barrytown man's calls to 111 went unanswered at the weekend as he frantically tried to get an ambulance for his daughter who had collapsed.

Wolfgang Jager dialled the emergency number twice -- the first time he let it ring 11 or 12 times, and on the second attempt he hung up after six rings.

His daughter was "out to it" on the floor so he phoned Grey Base Hospital directly. Staff there put him through to emergency services and an ambulance was finally dispatched.

Mr Jager's friend Roger Ewer said they wanted the public to be aware of the "serious problem".

Mr Jager told the Greymouth Star he thought his daughter's life was threatened.

"She was on the floor and I could not find a pulse, I rang and I rang again and there was no answer. Luckily I was able to call the Grey Hospital ... it seemed like an eternity. My daughter was passed out on the floor and I could not get hold of anyone."

Mr Ewer said they were thankful she was okay, but the outcome could have been very different.

He made some calls to find out why the emergency call went unanswered, not once, but twice.

"I called the police and got put through to a call centre in Auckland or Christchurch and asked who was responsible for monitoring 111 calls and asked who I complain to about the issue," Mr Ewer said.

He was told Spark was responsible for the 111 service.

"So I rang Spark and got nowhere."

Mr Jager said when the ambulance arrived it only came part way up his driveway, telling him they were concerned about some overhanging trees, which could have damaged the vehicle.

"Many large trucks come up my driveway -- (but) they seemed to make the ambulance a priority, rather than my daughter."

In the end he had to put his daughter in his car and drive her down to the waiting ambulance, which he found unacceptable.

St John area manager James McMeekin said they would be happy to talk to Mr Jager about the incident and encouraged him to "maybe trim some tree branches" to make it safe for the ambulance, if he needed their assistance again.

A Spark spokeswoman said they were investigating why the 111 call was not answered.

"(Spark) operates the Initial Call Answering Point for calls to 111 in New Zealand, so is tracing the call to identify what may have happened," the spokeswoman said.

 - Viv Logie

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