By Sam Boyer
The Dominion Post
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Airports have been told to strengthen their first aid practices, after the treatment provided to a fatal heart attack victim at Wellington Airport was ruled "inadequate".
Trevor William Morris, 35, suffered a heart attack at the airport on Aug. 17, 2009, at 7.16 p.m., shortly after arriving on a plane from Christchurch.
Coroner Garry Evans has found the immediate first aid treatment he received at the airport was substandard and contributed to his death.
He was pronounced dead at Wellington Hospital 56 minutes later.
In his certificate of findings, Mr Evans found the care administered "insufficient". He also ruled "the integrity of the scene was not respected".
After reviewing medical reports and CCTV footage of the resuscitation attempts, Mr Evans said airports needed to improve their first aid protocols.
In the findings, Sarah Hoyle, of Wellington Free Ambulance, said firefighters and paramedics showed "insufficient urgency on arrival and too much time unpacking equipment when the collapsed man required basic CPR".
Treatment was deemed "inadequate" and "there was poor co-ordination of the resuscitation and no one clear team leader", she said.
"Generally there was no crowd control despite the presence of airport security and management personnel.
Passengers were walking past for most of the resuscitation, including small children."
Senior Sergeant R A Masters told the coroner approximately 25 airport staff members came into contact with the scene, with "very little attempt to protect Mr Morris".
Members of the public "were allowed to walk within touching distance . . . without impediment.
"The integrity of the scene was not respected".
Mr Evans also found the defibrillator was provided too late to save Mr Morris' life.
"There is little doubt that Trevor Morris was not given the best possible chance of surviving . . . due to delay in effective CPR and defibrillation.
"It is reasonable to conclude that, had early defibrillation been achieved, he might have survived the event.
"In my opinion, the attempted resuscitation . . . fell well short of effective practice."
Wellington Airport has since initiated a more rigorous first aid training regime for staff and has invested in six public-access defibrillator units.
Mr Evans has recommended all airports follow the same steps, "to enable immediate response to medical emergencies".
The airport has also purchased portable screens for patient privacy.
Mr Morris' father, Stan, said the three-year delay in the outcome had been frustrating, but he was glad airports would be improving their services.
"Put it this way, Trevor didn't die in vain, did he? [The system] has been rectified, which is a good thing.
"Two-and-a-half years is quite a while to get the outcome. It did drag on a bit.
"It's just a shame that Trevor had to be the so-called guinea pig."
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