A tri-athlete who waited 90 minutes for an ambulance to find her running partner when he collapsed in Kingsdown Woods has taken action to help others.
Louise Ludwig, 53, of The Beach in Walmer, was out jogging with her friend Bill Goodall, 73, when he took a turn for the worse and an ambulance was called.
Already panicked, the former detective inspector was unable to provide the emergency services with a postcode or the longitude and latitude measurements required by the service to locate them.
Nor would the 999 operator pass on Mrs Ludwig’s mobile number to the ambulance team – who she would have been able to walk to meet.
This is because all calls to any emergency service must be recorded.
Her bad experience prompted her to create a seven-point plan advising others to be more prepared.
It also aims to help the emergency services locate casualties in remote locations.
The points include turning on your location settings on your mobile phone before you go out and carrying your 'in case of emergency' (ICE) details.
She also thinks people should familiarise themselves with apps such as 112 Where R U.
Mrs Ludwig said: “If this is going to speed things up and if it helps them, then we should all know about it.
“It has made me think what would I do differently.
"I was very, very concerned... Bill looked very unwell and I could tell it was serious" - Louise Ludwig
"I want my kids, friends and family and anyone else to know what to do. You don’t know when you will need it.
"If you have that information it will make everybody’s lives easier.
“We’ve got to help ourselves.
“It might not get the ambulance there faster but at least you know you’ve done everything you can.”
The Deal Tri Club members run up to four times a week and prefer sheltered locations like the woods during the summer months because they are cooler.
On the morning of July 13 they parked their cars in Walmer and started their run, as normal.
To enter the woods, they had to run up a slight hill. Mr Goodall, a painter and decorator, appeared to run out of puff before, saying he felt dizzy and sitting down on the floor.
Although he remained conscious the whole time, Mr Ludwig said he was visibly in a lot
of pain, calling 999 at about 8.50am.
She said: “They asked me for a road name but the only road name I could think of was Kingsdown Hill.
“I thought it would be possible with modern technology for them to be able to pick up our location.”
Time passed and she was getting frustrated.
She said: “In a difficult situation all you want is information.
“I was very, very concerned. He looked very unwell and I could tell it was serious.
“SECAmb would not give us an estimated time of arrival in case they got diverted and because of risk of future litigation.
“There was no reassurance and I don’t think that’s good enough.”
She continued: “You’re so looking forward to hearing the sirens and when you’re not hearing them, you’re just wondering how long they’re going to be.
“He was in such pain. He needed medical attention.”
It was an hour and a half before the first crew arrived, followed by another plus the Kent Air Ambulance.
“I was angry that they took a long time. It’s no doubt that when they did arrive, they saved his life.”
Mr Goodall, a grandfather, remains in hospital and is still undergoing tests and scans.
A South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) spokesman said: “There are times that, due to an unknown location of a patient, it can take us longer than we would like to respond to a call and we appreciate that this can be very frustrating for everyone involved.
“We have been in contact with Ms Ludwig regarding ways in which people, including those in her sports club, can assist us if they have to call 999 from an unknown or inaccessible location.
"Our thoughts are also with the patient and we wish him a good recovery.”
A South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) spokesman said: “We have recently introduced a new Computer Aided Dispatch system in our Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).
“When a 999 call is made from a smartphone BT will be working with our system to try and establish the location.
“In the case of Ms Ludwig’s call only a partial location match could be made.
"There are times that, due to an unknown location of a patient, it can take us longer than we would like to respond to a call" - SECAmb
"Our system is reliant on the latest Ordinance Survey maps which have been compiled.
"We also understand that Ms Ludwig and her friends know the location as a different name which is not known by the system.
“One way in which people can assist us is, if they have a smartphone, is to familiarise themselves with their phone’s location settings and map features.
"If using an Android & iOS device, after checking if their location setting is switched on and if they have a GPS signal, they can open up the maps application on their phone to pinpoint their location.
"By scrolling down or pressing the location dot the longitude and latitude location will show.
"Our EOC staff can then use this to confirm the location.
"There are also a number of apps which help with this. We are also able to take Ordinance Survey grid references.
“In addition we would urge people to plan ahead and familiarise themselves with the route they plan to take.
"It may also help a call taker if the caller can identify any local landmarks or points of interest which could be useful to help determine their location.”
Seven-point action plan
1. Don’t assume your Garmin (fitness devices) are wrong when your heart rate is very high. Get it checked out don’t just change the batteries!
2. Take a piece of paper listing your medicines/allergies/ailments. Obviously if you have a serious condition you will already have a bracelet/alert system, but consider having those details within easy reach if you want to leave your medical history private until needed.
3. Make sure you have your friends’s ICE (In case of emergency) details or can at least use their phone-including the code!
4. Get some apps that can tell you where you are; understand how to read the co-ordinates. You can text them to friends if you want them to find you/call an ambulance for you.
You can even have your friends/partner tracking you!
5. Turn on the internet and location finder before you start the run.
6. Make a note of the road names where you have parked, (or footpath numbers and village/road numbers of signs as you proceed).
Maybe if your journey is short you could know the OS map ref, or at least the two letters found at the top right of the map. Consider taking a photo if reception is poor.
If we do it for repairing a puncture let’s do it for an emergency situation. Practice by calling a friend and switching functions on your phone as you read a different screen. Practice texting friends and testing what locations they give-make sure your app is good and the co-ordinates are correct.