Woman’s death leads to calls for 000 probe

Fay Craigie died on January 30, days after she was found face-down on the floor of her Prosperine property.
Fay Craigie died on January 30, days after she was found face-down on the floor of her Prosperine property. Contributed

STATE and Federal governments are calling for an investigation into the Australia Day long-weekend telecommunications breakdown after Fay Craigie, 75, was found face-down on the floor of her Proserpine home with a useless Telstra phone and home alert button lying beside her.

Ms Craigie, who died three days after she was found covered in pressure sores, blood and bruises, had attempted to use her home alert button several times before losing consciousness.

But the device, connected to ambulance services through Telstra, failed her.

Ms Craigie's daughter Anne-Marie Rankmore spoke yesterday with Telstra management, who told her they could not guarantee a similar communications breakdown wouldn't happen again.

In Federal Parliament yesterday Member for Dawson George Christensen called for a formal investigation into the breakdown of 000 emergency phone lines and Telstra services across the state. "I was very distressed to read in my local paper, the Daily Mercury, today that there was an emergency in Proserpine during the time those emergency numbers were offline," he said in parliament.

"Fay Craigie, 75, a woman with a serious lung condition, was left without help when she needed it most.

"... what I do not understand is why the 000 emergency service line could not be called by Telstra phone. In normal circumstances, when the service is out you can still get 000."

Mr Christensen said he was anxiously waiting for a response from Telstra as to why the 000 breakdown occurred and what precautions were being taken to ensure it didn't happen again.

"I have requested the Ministers for Communications and Emergency Management investigate this matter."

Ms Rankmore said she was considering starting a petition to lobby for better Telstra back-up systems after her phone conversation with the company yesterday.

"I was asked to email them with what I want out of this whole situation ... right now all I want is for them to say it won't happen again and no one can give me that reassurance."

Timeline

  • On January 27 Anne-Marie Rankmore tried calling her elderly sick mother and couldn't get through.
  • On the morning of January 28 Ms Rankmore drove from her Calen home to her mum's Proserpine property and found her mother unconscious on the floor of her bedroom with a Telstra phone and activated home alert button lying beside her.
  • Ms Rankmore's mother Fay Craigie died in hospital on January 30. Ms Rankmore made her first call to Telstra that same evening.
  • Ms Rankmore contacted Telstra again on February 4 and was told someone would call her back.
  • On February 6 at 11am Telstra contacted Ms Rankmore and offered their condolences, saying there would be an internal investigation into the incident.
Supplied

TELSTRA

IT TOOK Telstra management seven days after an initial complaint to contact distressed daughter Anne-Marie Rankmore.

In a statement to the Daily Mercury, a Telstra spokesperson promised an internal investigation into the delay, saying it was "unacceptable".

"Following the investigation we will take any appropriate steps to help make sure calls of such a nature are given the respect and priority they deserve.

"Telstra's network is highly resilient; however, given the extent and force of the recent flooding in Queensland, we experienced unprecedented damage to our main fibre-optic cable that carries much of the state's communications needs as well as the back-up cable 100 kilometres away."

Campbell Newman
Campbell Newman

PREMIER NEWMAN

QUEENSLAND Premier Campbell Newman has weighed in on a nationwide discussion into the Australia Day long weekend breakdown of phone lines and 000 services.

Mr Newman said the breakdown of communications "really bothered" him and raised the debate of whether people in isolated communities should be issued with satellite phones for emergency use rather than relying on landlines and two-way radios during natural disasters.

He said the government needed to address the problem and establish an alternative means of communication before disasters struck, to act as a back-up plan. Mr Newman told the Gladstone Observer that it would be "unfair" to criticise Telstra for its performance during the crisis.



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