Ambulance call death trial opens in Stockholm

A 52-year-old nurse on trial in Stockholm for causing the death of 23-year-old Emil Lindell by not sending an ambulance in response to his calls for help told the court on Monday he was "completely innocent".

Ambulance call death trial opens in Stockholm

The case dates back to the early hours of January 30th this year when the Stockholm man called SOS Alarm, a company operating emergency response services in several counties in Sweden, repeatedly and asked for an ambulance.

He had been experiencing difficulty breathing and had lost consciousness several times while he spoke with the nurse on the phone.

Several family members chose to leave the courtroom when officials played the recording of Lindell’s call to SOS Alarm, while several of those who remained burst into tears.

“Help! Please, send an ambulance,” Lindell could be heard saying.

The 52-year-old man responded on the tape, “I don’t hear that you are having any trouble breathing.”

According to prosecutors, the 52-year-old nurse should have prioritized the call and sent an ambulance directly.

By not doing so, prosecutors argue, the man deviated from a medicinal index checklist and through “conscious risk-taking of a serious nature” caused Lindell’s death.

The 52-year-old nurse, who no longer works for SOS Alarm, faces charges of aggravated manslaughter

In court, he denied committing any crime.

“I’m completely innocent,” the nurse told the court.

He subsequently gave his version of events from January 30th.

“I couldn’t get the puzzle pieces to fit together. The sounds he was making didn’t correspond with the physical symptoms. I became uncertain,” he said.

The 23-year-old man was suffering from a ruptured spleen, a condition that requires emergency care, the prosecutor concluded.

A ruptured spleen causes breathing problems and affects circulation to the extent that it can cause a loss of consciousness, as well as pain and extreme anxiety.

Lindell rang SOS Alarm twice in the course of 13 minutes and related the symptoms which he was experiencing.

His mother told the TT news agency of her feelings regarding the trial.

“It’s tough, but my son can’t be here himself so I have to do this for him,” she said.

“The worst is that he begged for an ambulance. I can’t understand that they didn’t send an ambulance, but instead torment him with more questions.”

At the same time, however, she doesn’t put all the blame on the 52-year-old.

“I actually feel bad for him. He’s not the only one responsible,” she said.

Lindell’s mother contends that the nurse shouldn’t have been working in the position he was in at the time of the calll and that SOS Alarm failed by letting him do so.

The case generated a great deal of interest in Sweden and prompted scrutiny of the service provided by SOS Alarm.

The National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) published a report on Friday sternly criticising the firm for severe flaws in their judgements of ambulance call-outs.

The agency has investigated around 50 cases across the country in the course of its investigations and has demanded that SOS Alarm reply by January 15th with a plan of action to address the deficiencies.

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Last rites for Sweden’s divine hotline

The Swedish government is proposing to call time on a service that allows people to talk to a pastor by ringing the national emergency number 112, a move that counters action to cut suicide rates, the service's national coordinator has said.

Last rites for Sweden’s divine hotline

A new report entitled “One authority for emergencies” proposes that SOS Alarm, the company that runs the 112 number, should be replaced with an agency that deals solely with police, ambulance, fire and rescue services, according to a report in the Christian newspaper Kyrkans Tidning on Thursday.

“Removing the service doesn’t fit with the government’s vision to reduce suicide rates,” Monica Eckerdal, national coordinator of the 112 pastor on-call service, told the newspaper.

In an further interview with Christian daily Dagen, Eckerdal added that the financial crisis and constraints on Sweden’s mental health service has put increased pressure on the phoneline. Since 2008, the number of calls has increased by 40 percent.

“The problem today is that many people can’t afford a landline and only own a mobile with pre-paid cards,” she said. “When the money is gone you can still make emergency calls, so the call to us is perhaps the only chance people get to talk to someone all day.”

The phone line is open daily between the hours of 9pm and 6pm with priests from the Swedish Church volunteering to lend their ear to those in crisis. It was first introduced on a regional level in the 1950s and has been linked to the 112 number since 2002.

“I’m not worried about it on the Swedish Church’s part,” Eckerdal told Dagen. “We are already equipped to start up an 020 number for emergency calls directly. But this is about those who are not able to call a number other than 112.”

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