Off-duty paramedic Andrew Lightbody, 53, (pictured) died in April 2020 after a 999 call from his Worcestershire home was wrongly categorised as less urgent, an inquest has heard

Andrew Lightbody (53), an off-duty paramedic, died April 2020, after his 999 call from Worcestershire was incorrectly classified as being less urgent. An inquest heard.

After a call to West Midlands Ambulance Service from Worcestershire, a paramedic on duty died. The incorrectly assigned category meant that he had problems with his headset.

Andrew Lightbody, 53 years old, became purple and fell to his death at home from a blood clot that had formed in his lungs after the lockdown of April 19, 2013.

His partner Emma Hill, an A&E nurse, rang 999 and told the call handler Mr Lightbody was not breathing and was in ‘peri-arrest’ – a code word for the most severe cases.

But the handler classed the callout as Category 2, which has a target response time of 18 to 40 minutes, rather than an emergency Category 1 which targets getting an ambulance to the scene in between seven and 15 minutes, Worcestershire Coroner’s Court heard.  

This meant that paramedics didn’t arrive at Mr Lightbody’s Bewdley house until 28 minutes after the 10:59pm 999 call. He then went into cardiac arrest while being loaded into an ambulance. 

Just after midnight, he died at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Victoria Wharton (clinical commander for control rooms, West Midlands Ambulance Service) conducted an investigation. He reported that the call-handler said that he could not hear the conversation properly because of ‘problems with his headset’ and that it affected the moment that critical information was shared.  

Ms. Wharton claimed that she checked all ambulance resources that were available that night and found that there was no other option that would have allowed her to arrive at the scene earlier than 10:59pm. 

Paramedic Andrew Lightbody (left) turned purple and collapsed at his home after a blood clot formed in his lungs but an ambulance did not get to his address until 28 minutes later because the callout was labelled a Category 2 incident, not a Category 1 emergency

Andrew Lightbody, paramedic (left), became purple after suffering a blood clot in his lungs. An ambulance arrived at his house 28 minutes later. The callout had been deemed a Category 2 emergency and not a Category 1.

David Reid, Worcestershire’s Senior Coroner, stated that while it might have been shorter than the required time to complete a Category 1, she was willing to accept that fact.

A tragic twist of events was revealed when the post-mortem found that Mr Lightbody died of pulmonary embolism from deep vein thrombosis. This had occurred because Lightbody was still immobile due to an Achilles tendon injury.  

According to the jury, the paramedic had ruptured part of his Achilles one month prior when he tried to help a patient who was running into traffic.

This injury caused Mr Lightbody to be immobile for 2 weeks, with his leg plastered. He was then given the anticoagulant drug Clexane in order to prevent blood clots from forming. 

He had begun to use a hinged shoe in the weeks leading up to his death. His partner Miss Hill kept an eye out for signs of blood clots and was constantly monitoring him.

Miss Hill, Miss Hill’s grieving partner, said: “A pulmonary embolism (heathensis) was my worst nightmare because he was at high risk.” I triaged him every day of the week, and checked for signs.

“On the day that it occurred, he was dead in front of my eyes and I had no choice but to help him. He had watched television and they had already shared one kiss.

‘I was only sitting on the other sofa because of covid, as I was working in A&E. He became rigid, and then his face turned purple after I heard the strange sound.

Bedford-born Mr Lightbody, known as Andy, had served with the Ambulance Service for 31 years (pictured, centre, receiving an award for 25 years of service) after being in the Army's Medical Corp for five years, when he served in Germany

 Bedford-born Mr Lightbody, known as Andy, had served with the Ambulance Service for 31 years (pictured, centre, receiving an award for 25 years of service) after being in the Army’s Medical Corp for five years, when he served in Germany

She said, “I called 999. Andy was able to start breathing again after I started shouting my address to him. He was breathing now, the call handler stated. I replied “not properly”, and informed him that he was in peri-arrest.

Miss Hill offered her partner Clexane, while their friend (another paramedic) rushed to give them oxygen so they could rest.

Andy Lightbody was born in Bedford and had a daughter Erin. He had been in the Army Medical Corp for five year before he went to war in Germany. 

After surviving testicular carcinoma in 2009, he enjoyed drawing and baking.

Miss Hill had lived with her partner for seven-years. She described him as “amazing” and someone that everyone knew. 

‘Andy was an amazing person with an amazing giggle and a huge character,’ she said.

It continues.