Ronald Robinson inquest: Paramedics called to treat suffocating dad did not know he had swallowed plastic bag

Leading paramedics involved in the treatment of a Blackpool man who swallowed a plastic bag full of drugs while being arrested had no idea he was suffocating until they retrieved the item from his throat.

By Wes Holmes
Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 3:45 pm

Ronald Robinson, 56, of Queens Promenade, died of acute airways obstruction after trying to swallow a 7cm by 4cm plastic bag after being pulled over by police on Knowle Avenue, North Shore at 5.30pm on March 11 2021.

At his inquest today (June 22) two paramedics told the court that they had not been informed that the dad-of-five had ingested 'a small ball-shaped object' before he collapsed in the street.

Senior paramedic Daniel Cross said: "The patient was unconscious, he was not breathing and his heart was not beating.

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Ronald Robinson

"I was not informed that the patient had been arrested, or that he had swallowed anything."

Police bodycam footage taken from arresting officer 6968 Reeve, shown on the first day of the inquest, showed the PC telling ambulance technician Craig Eaton that he believed Mr Robinson had swallowed something as he removed a stretcher from the back of the ambulance.

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Blackpool man Ronald Robinson's drugs death captured on police bodycam

However, this message was not passed on to Mr Cross and fellow paramedic Gemma Royle, who were treating Mr Robinson on the other side of the ambulance.

Ronald Robinson

Mr Eaton said: "When I arrived at the patient, we got him onto the stretcher. I didn't pass on any information that (Mr Robinson) had swallowed something because he had an airway on already. I was under the impression that whoever had inserted the airway, that they would have checked his throat to make sure it was clear. At that point, I didn't think it was pertinent to what was happening.

"In hindsight, I should have passed on that information."

He added: "I heard (PC Reeve) say he'd swallowed something, but I presumed that, because Gemma was with the patient, that was she also getting a handover report from another police officer who was there."

Mr Robinson was taken onto the ambulance, where Mr Eaton noticed his chest was not rising and falling as he was ventilated, indicating a blockage.

Ms Royle used a largyngoscope and a torch to examine his throat and located the plastic bag, which she removed with forceps.

She said: "You could see it at the entry point to the airway. I don't believe you would have been able to see it without the largyngoscope.

"I do remember it being firmly in place and having to apply some force to pull it out."

She said she was 'quite shocked' at the size of the plastic bag.

Mr Cross said: "In my experience, it was the largest item I have ever seen removed from a patient's airway."

As well as requiring specialist equipment to identify the bag, the court also heard it could not have been removed by hand, as doing so could have pushed it deeper into Mr Robinson's throat.

When asked whether earlier removal of the plastic bag would have saved Mr Robinson, Ms Royle said: "I don't think it would have affected the outcome, but there was definitely a communication issue at the scene."

Mr Eaton said: "I'm not sure if it would have changed the outcome, however on reflection I should have made sure that Gemma was aware that (Mr Robinson) had swallowed something as soon as I got to her with the stretcher."

The inquest continues.