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Letter: Emergency response time questioned

Tuesday 9 July 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


Letter: Emergency response time questioned

Dear Editor, I am an American staying at Te Manava Resort, and was involved with the lifesaving efforts made to help the man who unfortunately passed away at Pacific Resort on Sunday morning (Underlying conditions may have contributed to tourist drowning, Cook Islands News, July 2). Here is my perspective.

My wife and I arrived to the Restaurant by the beach at Pacific Resort around 11am to have lunch. People were swimming and it seemed like a normal day. Around 11.10am, we heard a commotion coming from the beach and stood up from our table to see what was going on. A man in his 40s or 50s had the victim. I sprinted down to the beach to help.

The victim was unresponsive from the moment he got to the beach. We worked to clear his airways and another man began chest compressions immediately. Within two minutes, emergency services had been called. Someone else brought an AED and CPR was continued.

Other guests with more professional medical experience rushed to the scene. At this point, I backed away to give room to people with more experience. So far as I know, the AED did not defibrillate the victim, as the AED kept saying “no pulse detected; continue CPR”.

Local medical personnel (Ambulance and Paramedics as we call in the USA) did not arrive until at least 11.45am, over a half hour from the first call. It was not until noon or 12.15pm that the paramedic pronounced death on scene and notified the victim’s wife who unfortunately witnessed this tragic event.

I want to make a point to emphasise that nearly 20 guests who were vacationing there jumped into action to immediately help the victim and worked in attempting to resuscitate the victim.

I read your article, and while underlying complications may have attributed to the drowning, the very slow response from Emergency Services should also be considered.

It was an incredibly hard experience to watch. Our prayers are with the victim’s family.

Thank you for allowing me to share.

(Name and address supplied)

Reply – The call was received by the hospital at 11.20am for drowning at Pacific Resort and the ambulance was dispatched at 11.22am. It arrived at the Pacific Resort at 11.40am, attended to the victim with stretcher and medical bag and arrived back to ambulance at 11.45am then departing for the hospital. Case was referred to Coroner.

The response time given the distance from the hospital to the Pacific Resort was considered within the expected response time.

Bob Williams

Secretary of Health


graham roper on 10/07/2024

There are no Paramedics employed by the TMO. In fact the TMO/Williams continues to say they do however the staff used are nurses and sometimes a doctor who have little to no training or experience in pre hospital/ outside hospital emergency care. The TMO/Williams actively prevent improvement to the service for the people and visitors to the Cook Islands. e.g Japan donated 3 cardiac portable machines (as found in NZ/aus/ Japan that provide comprehensive recording, monitoring , manual and AED functions but fail to use them in the ambulance. An AED is very basic as described and are effectively useless in these situations.

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