Inquest continues after death of Nick Panagiotopoulos

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The inquest into the death of Nick Panagiotopoulos, 47, who suffered a cardiac arrest in October 2021 after a 16-minute wait for an ambulance operator, continues to examine what action was taken as call-answering performance deteriorated in the preceding weeks.

According to WA Today, Christopher Mercovich, a senior performance monitoring officer who spoke at the inquest on Monday on behalf of the Inspector-General, argued that IGEM [Inspector-General for Emergency Management] should allow Victoria’s triple-zero agency, then known as the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority, some leniency to improve its performance.

Witness Christopher Mercovich, from the Inspector-General for Emergency Management, leaves the Coroners Court on Monday.CREDIT:JAMES ROSS
Witness Christopher Mercovich, from the Inspector-General for Emergency Management, leaves the Coroners Court on Monday. Photo: James Ross.

“It is not the role of IGEM to come over the top of ESTA, or any other organisation, and interfere in their operations in the middle of a global pandemic,” Mercovich said.

“At this point in October [last year], our priority was to make the minister aware how performance had dropped off.”

IGEM’s review, published in September 2022, found that “ESTA simply did not have sufficient ambulance call-takers to meet incredible demand”, partly because it had not been properly funded by the government.

The inquest, presided over by coroner Catherine Fitzgerald, was informed at an earlier hearing that Nick Panagiotopoulos‘ death was caused by a considerable triple-zero answering delay and that if he had gotten early treatment, his chances of survival would have been good.

Source: WA Today

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