Emergency services phone outage led to woman’s death

Ambulance
Ambulance. (Photo: Politie)

A woman from Breda died on Monday afternoon while emergency number 1-1-2 was unavailable due to an outage at telecom company KPN. Her family tried to call the emergency number when she became unwell at home, but could not get through, local safety office Veiligheidsregio Zeeland-West-Brabant and ambulance service RAV Brabant Midden-West-Noord confirmed to RTL Nieuws.

The woman became unwell at 4:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon. Relatives tried to call 1-1-2, but couldn't get through due to the nationwide outage. They then called the family doctor, who also tried and failed to reach the emergency services. "When 1-1-2 turned out to be unreachable, her doctor went to the police station in Breda to ask for help", Caspar van den Brandt of RAV Brabant Midden-West-Noord said to RTL Nieuws.

"A police officer contacted the control room at exactly 4:52 p.m. via the C2000 communication system, then an ambulance was dispatched", Van den Brandt said. The doctor and police officer also headed to the woman's home. "The ambulance arrived around seven minutes later." That was about 30 minutes after relatives first tried to contact the emergency services. 

When the ambulance arrived, the doctor and police officer were already trying to resuscitate the woman. "In the end, the doctor decided to stop the resuscitation because help could no longer benefit", a spokesperson for the Veiligheidsregio said to RTL.

"We regret that a failure at a telephone provider led to this sad event," the RAV told newspaper AD.

When asked if the delay was directly attributed to her death, a spokesperson from RAV told the AD, "I'm not a doctor; thus can't give an answer. All this depends on what condition she had and whether time was a significant factor."

Personal injury attorney Sander de Lang reportedly told the newspaper that 1-1-2 receives a truly urgent call every five minutes. Life-threatening medical situations where every second counts includes cardiac arrest, anaphylactic shock, and suffocation, he told the paper.

The outage on Monday left 1-1-2 and the police's main contact number unreachable for over three hours. What caused the problem is not yet clear, though KPN did say that it was not a hack and that the issues affected KPN systems, not the 112 system itself

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