Satnavs delay ambulance calls

Ambluance bosses have defended themselves over accusations that satellite navigation equipment on board vehicles has caused delays in life-threatening situations.

SUFFOLK: Ambluance bosses have defended themselves over accusations that satellite navigation equipment on board vehicles has caused delays in life-threatening situations.

Documents obtained from a Freedom of Information request have revealed a number of incidents in the past seven years in which crews from the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) have experienced problems with sat nav while responding to 999 calls.

A log shows historic problems where difficulties with the kit caused delays in responding to a range of call-outs, including to a 10-week-old child in cardiac arrest, a baby reportedly “turning blue” and a toddler with breathing difficulties.

The log, dating back to 2002, described how crews had repeatedly been sent to addresses in foreign countries, under bridges that were too low, down farm tracks and dead ends.

However trust bosses said the majority of errors were reported prior to the July 2006 merger of the three former trusts that make up the EEAS.

The number of notifications about sat nav systems misdirecting drivers tailed off this year but the problems were raised by crews first in 2003.

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The trust's Adverse Incident Reporting System also notes about 20 separate occasions where sat nav equipment had been stolen from ambulances while crews were attending patients. The cost of these thefts has been put at approximately �20,000.

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