The parents of a critically ill boy who was told “get a taxi” when he called 119 for an ambulance and subsequently died without ever receiving medical attention are suing the city responsible.
The 19-year-old Yamagata prefecture student suddenly fell ill at home one morning at 5AM in late October, suffering severe vomiting and delirium.
He managed to call 119 for emergency services, but instead of being dispatched an ambulance he was told “take a taxi to hospital,” with the dispatchers refusing to send help, a taxi, or to inform the hospital.
Help never came and he was unable to find his way to hospital. His parents became concerned, and had his landlord call on him 10 days after the call, whereupon he discovered the boy’s remains at home.
Recordings of the call which somehow escaped mysterious loss, deletion or misfiling audibly demonstrated him having difficulty breathing, being only barely able to speak, and apparently not in full possession of his faculties.
His parents have filed a lawsuit against the city responsible, asserting that not despatching aid to a dying man is a clear dereliction of their legal obligations and demanding ¥10,000,000 in compensation.
The city has so far declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.
The case has understandably sparked outrage amongst Japanese:
“This is horrible. Somebody who doesn’t regularly use taxis wouldn’t even know their number, and for them to tell someone sick enough to have called for an ambulance to find the number of a taxi company and call one himself, go outside and wait for one whilst sick on a winter morning… are they devils?”
“Since they are only asking for 10 million it really sounds like they are more interested in finding out why they let him die than just claiming compensation.”
“That’s a trifling sum for a 19-year-old’s death.”
“The city ought to at least comment on why they didn’t send out an ambulance!”
“At least they didn’t send him an ambulance only for the hospital to refuse him.”
“He could have at least asked them for the right number.”
“Because telling someone who called 119 at 5AM to come to hospital themselves in a taxi is just such basic common sense, right!?”
“Blame this on all the idiots who call 119 for no good reason.”
“Why haven’t they established his cause of death fully? They are getting off lightly if he really did die because of this.”
“They probably don’t have tons of money to start a huge suit against the city. I expect their lawyer plans to start off with this and then use the proceeds for further litigation.”
“What about the poor taxi driver who’d be expected to drive a fatally ill man to hospital…”