‘Don’t worry, I’ll be fine’ – man’s words to wife before ambulance crash death

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The inquest into Trevor Bailey’s death, being held in Hull, heard how he had suffered a heart attack at work and came home. An ambulance was then called to his home near Pocklington, on April 22 last year. Despite his serious condition Mr Bailey, known as Trev, was chatting to paramedics and walked to the ambulance before being placed on a stretcher.

The inquest then heard how the ambulance was heading along the A1079 towards Castle Hill Hospital. On the approach to Barmby Moor, the ambulance began to overtake a HGV.

However, the HGV’s offside rear indicator was not working, HullLive reports. It had veered slightly to the left before turning which the medical care assistant Gemma Sumners, who was driving, assumed meant he was giving way. But the HGV started to turn right and the ambulance had to swerve out of the way before hitting the brick wall at the entrance to a yard.

Miss Sumners was trapped and the paramedic in the back David Butterfield was knocked unconscious and spent four weeks in hospital. Mr Bailey suffered severe head and chest injuries and died at the scene.

In a statement, Mr Bailey’s wife Jane Bailey told how her husband called to say he was coming home because he was unwell. He complained of back and chest pain. Mrs Bailey called the doctor and was told to ring for an ambulance. When Mr Bailey came home he was sick and then went to lie on the sofa.

Mr Butterfield and Miss Sumners arrived at the Baileys’ home where Mr Bailey was assessed. It was clear he was suffering a heart attack but he managed to walk to the ambulance before being placed on a stretcher.

In her statement Mrs Bailey said: “As he left he told me ‘don’t worry about me I will be fine, just look after yourself’.” In a further victim impact statement Mrs Bailey paid tribute to her husband. She said: “We did not realise how much Trev did for everyone.

“It is only once he was taken away from us that we realised just how much he did. He was very much a family man and he would do anything for anyone. He was someone anyone could turn to for advice.”

Pathologist Dr Christopher Johnson did find evidence of severe heart disease which would probably have been responsible for Mr Bailey’s  symptoms but he confirmed this did not contribute to his death. The pathologist confirmed the cause of death was severe chest and head injuries due to a road traffic collision.

The inquest also heard that neither Mr Bailey nor Mr Butterfield were properly strapped in at the time of the collision. Mr Butterfield gave evidence at the inquest.

He said he had been a paramedic for 39 years. He was badly injured in the collision, suffering a severe chest injury and a number of rib fractures. He remained at Leeds General Infirmary for almost a month.

Mr Bailey

He told the inquest he could not remember anything from leaving the front door of the Bailey home to two and a half weeks later other than a vague recollection of lying in the road.

He said he would normally be strapped in and the patient would be harnessed on the stretcher. But he admitted he cannot remember if Mr Bailey was fully harnessed and suggested he may have been standing himself up at the time to attend to Mr Bailey.

He said he had not been working in the ambulances since the incident but says he is not aware of any further training around loading stretchers and harnesses since. Miss Sumners told the inquest how she was fully trained and had embarked on a four-week ambulance driving training course which she passed with flying colours.

On April 22 last year, she helped Mr Bailey into the ambulance on a stretcher and strapped him in around his shins and groin but not the harness on the upper body which goes over the shoulders and around the waist. During the journey she heard Mr Butterfield and Mr Bailey chatting in the back but never saw her colleague stand up and no serious issues had arisen. She had the blue lights and sirens on at the time.

On her decision to overtake the truck she said: “A car had indicated and pulled over so I know it had seen me. I noticed the truck seemed to veer to the left so I thought it had seen me. I never saw it indicate and so I felt it was safe to overtake.

“When it began to turn I swerved to avoid hitting the truck and decided not to turn into the entrance as I feared we would roll over.”

The driver of the HGV, John Hilton, told the inquest he had been driving HGVs since 2007. He said he carried out a test on the lights that morning and found no defects. There was nothing in the dashboard warning him of any problems.

Area Coroner Lorraine Harris warned Mr Hilton that he did not have to answer any questions he felt could incriminate him. He said he indicated but declined to say whether he looked in his mirror before turning. He also declined to say whether he heard the sirens or saw the ambulance prior to the crash.

Witnesses coming towards the HGV described seeing the HGV indicate to turn right into the yard and then saw the ambulance overtaking and then swerve before hitting the wall. One driver said he had pulled over to let the ambulance past before seeing it overtake the HGV before crashing into the wall.

Others rushed to the ambulance and discovered Mr Bailey and Mr Butterfield inside. They heard the paramedic groaning but there was no sign of life from the patient. They tried to help before police arrived.

Two off-duty police officers also arrived and tried to help Mr Butterfield and Mr Bailey. They moved the two casualties who were slumped in the back of the ambulance into the recovery position so they could unblock their airwaves and carry out CPR.

Mr Butterfield began to breathe and regained consciousness but the patient remained unresponsive. HGV technician David Stephenson carried out tests on the vehicle involved and found that the offside rear indicator was not working and also that the defect did not show up on the dashboard.

A serious incident report was published by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service which described the incident as a “cascade of events”. It emphaised the need to harness in patients and ensure paramdics are also strapped in. If the patient needs to be attended to, the ambulance should find a safe place to stop, the report said.

Further evidence is due to be heard today (Tuesday) before Mrs Harris delivers her conclusion.

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