When Britain's "health and safety" obsession kills
Cowardice is now officially encouraged, and even compulsory. That is still no excuse for the worm described below, however.
A choking diner died after a paramedic refused treatment because he feared for his own safety. Builder John Kinder began to gasp for breath as his frantic friend Frank Honey pushed away staff who had rushed to Mr Kinder's aid.
When an ambulance arrived, the paramedic told the restaurant manager in Manchester he wouldn't go inside - because Mr Honey, 65, was 'aggressive'. He waited for police to arrive ten minutes later - by which time Mr Kinder, 55, had suffered fatal brain damage.
The details emerged as coroner Nigel Meadows dramatically halted an inquest into the death to demand answers about ambulance service protocol. Mr Meadows said: 'I want to know why they took some time before entering the restaurant.'
Mr Kinder's widow Judith said she had found it hard to understand why a paramedic wouldn't help her husband. She told the hearing: 'John didn't deserve to die because the behaviour another man stopped him being treated.'
The inquest heard how Mr Kinder and Mr Honey had both ordered steak and chips, with a bottle of wine, at the Villaggio Restaurant on Canal Street.
Minutes after they were served, manageress Lauren Littlechild heard a plate and glass smash and saw Mr Kinder fighting for breath. She said: 'I thought he was having an asthma attack but he got worse and we called an ambulance. 'I spoke to the paramedic and told him a man was struggling to breathe.
'The paramedic said an aggressive man was in the restaurant. I told him the man was about 70 and that there was no threat. 'But he insisted on waiting for the police. I just wanted him to get a bit closer and advise us what to do - but he still insisted on a police presence.'
Miss Littlechild said Mr Honey had made it difficult for staff to get to Mr Kinder. 'It was obvious he had had a lot to drink and was shoving us and waving his arms around,' she said.
When police officers arrived they escorted the paramedic into the restaurant.
Mr Kinder, of Charlesworth, Glossop, died five days later in Manchester Royal Infirmary from irreversible brain damage caused by oxygen starvation.
Mr Honey said he and Mr Kinder had been 'in a couple of pubs' before going for a meal.
An ambulance service spokesman said: 'Based on information available, usually from the 999 caller, staff can take the decision to stand off from a scene until it is deemed safe.
'These measures are taken in order to protect staff. If they require a police presence, they would request this via control and then wait for their arrival.'
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).