View Full Version : Inquests and paramedics - UK

Becky Black
09-06-2012, 02:03 PM
I'm wondering if paramedics who'd attended the scene of a fatal car crash would be called to give evidence at the inquest. In the case of the story I'm thinking about, they'd be the first emergency services personnel on scene - in fact they actually come across the scene before anyone else. It involves a car and a lorry and both drivers are dead and there's one survivor at the scene.

Especially with them being first on the scene, would they be called to give evidence at the inquests for the dead drivers?

09-06-2012, 02:25 PM
I was involved in a road traffic accident in January of this year. The police arrived before the paramedic. The accident was on a rural road on the outskirts of a town.

There are so many variables to take into account: where the accident happened, what the survivor can tell the police about the cause of the accident, if the accident was caused deliberately - which might mean the dead drivers were murdered. The person who does the autopsy would be called to give evidence about the cause of death; I am not sure that the paramedic would be. To be honest I think I would phone the ambulance service up and ask them.

09-06-2012, 03:22 PM
They might submit written statements rather than appearing. The inquest wants to establish who died, when they died, how they died, and why they died. The paramedics' evidence may therefore be relevant, but it also may not be contested. If they're not going to be questioned, they don't need to be there.

Peter Graham
09-06-2012, 04:18 PM
I'm wondering if paramedics who'd attended the scene of a fatal car crash would be called to give evidence at the inquestIt depends. The job of the Coroner is to establish who died, when they died and how they died. The Court is more inquisitorial than adversarial and the Coroner keeps a close eye on anyone else asking questions.

The Coroner is usually aware of any disputed evidence prior to the inquest. That might determine who is called in person and who isn't, but that is all down to the Coroner.

Usually, the Coroner is assisted by officers seconded (but still working from) the local divisional or HQ Police station. These officers get everything together, notify the parties, set up the hearing and pass the file to the Coroner who then comes in for the money shot.

In your case, it will all depend on whether anyone seriously thinks the cause of death was anything other than a car crash. There would certainly be a statement - and perhaps even evidence - from an experienced police officer working on traffic. This officer would be called in to observe the scene, measure the skidmarks etc and from that, form a view as to how fast folk were driving and what happened. Unless this report identified something fishy OR if the injuries were not consistent with a car crash (there'd be medical evidence too, often in person), I don't think much other "live" evidence from eye witnesses would be needed.



09-06-2012, 05:11 PM
I was a US EMT and have been to fatal accidents.

At all calls, we would fill out a form, which had a whole lot of check the boxes, places to fill in numbers, and so on and so forth. But one of the pages is a narrative form where you describe what you saw and heard, and what you do as a result.

In a fatal, you use this section to describe what you saw when you arrived and why you determined the patient was dead. Then you describe what you did. It would read something like this:
1025 hrs. -- On arrival, pt. found slumped in driver's seat, massive blood loss, cut right side neck, two inches deep, no blood flow from cut, steering wheel in contact with chest. No pulse, not breathing. Checked for lung/heart sounds. None. Pt. trapped and extrication estimated at 30+ minutes.

Called MC (medical control), spoke with Dr. On-duty. Advised to call pt.

1147 hrs. -- Body extricated. Bagged and transported.
Major facts here is the lack of blood flow from cut (in other words, person has run out of blood) and the lack of sounds from heart/lung. Combined with the extrication time. If we could get the patient out immediately, we'd probably go with two large bore IVs and transport. Probably won't work, but at least we tried.

To be honest, people who are called in a motor vehicle accident that are easy to extricate usually have a significant separation of body parts. It's awfully hard to recover from a neck amputation, for example.

I'm going to guess that British EMTs have a similar form. Usually an EMT isn't going to testify to much more then what's one the form.

Where I'd see the EMT called to the inquest is if calling the patient was iffy.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Becky Black
09-07-2012, 01:05 PM
Great, thanks for the answers, all. Sounds like he won't be going, at least not in any official capacity.