The family of a 15-year-old girl who died suddenly at South Windsor High School over the summer during a conditioning exercise at a dance camp has filed a notice of intent to sue the towns of South Windsor and Manchester, according to published reports.
According to the Journal Inquirer and the Hartford Courant, the family of Hannah Patrie, through its attorneys at Santos & Seeley of Hartford, is claiming in the notice that the towns’ first responders were negligent in their alleged lack of preparedness and slow response time.
The notice was filed on Dec. 21, according to the Journal Inquirer. A notice of intent is not a lawsuit, but is a method to toll the statute of limitations and also notify all parties that a lawsuit could be filed in the future.
Attorney Jessica Santos told the Courant that the family had not decided whether to file a lawsuit.
Hannah Patrie was in the high school auditorium around 2:30 p.m. on June 29 when she reported having difficulty breathing while partaking in an exercise with the Footloose Show Choir Camp.
She subsequently suffered an apparent seizure and collapsed, according to police at the time.
According to the Courant, a child called 911 around 2:54 p.m., and Patrie’s mother Karen, a registered nurse, arrived at the scene and attempted to provide CPR to Hannah.
Karen Patrie reportedly pleaded with Officer Christina Mazzoccoli to call for an emergency helicopter, but was told that there was nowhere to land, the Courant said.
“Minutes later, another police officer appeared with an automated external defibrillator, but apparently did not administer a shock because the device advised against it,” the Courant said. “Police officers didn't begin CPR until 3:08 p.m., the notice states.”
Patrie was transported via Aetna ambulance, which is part of Ambulance Service of Manchester, to Manchester Memorial Hospital at 3:54 p.m., where she was later pronounced dead, according to police.
A representative at the state’s medical examiner in a telephone conversation said that Patrie’s cause of death was “undetermined, pending further investigation.”
How the ambulances responded is the subject of some controversy.
The South Windsor Ambulance Corps. has two ambulances, but just one was in service on June 29, according to SWAC owner Larry Gorman.
June 29 was an unusually hot day, and the lone South Windsor Ambulance Corps. ambulance was out on another call, according to records.
Regardless, SWAC does not provide advance life support. The Ambulance Service of Manchester (ASM) does. According to South Windsor police records, both ASM ambulances were tied up on other calls and ultimately did not respond until 3:14 p.m., approximately 45 minutes after Patrie allegedly collapsed.
At its last full meeting on Dec. 17, the South Windsor Town Council unanimously approved having Town Manager Matthew Galligan go out to bid for ambulance services that have advanced life support capability.
The town currently has what is known as “paramedic intercept” in which a South Windsor Ambulance meets up with an advance life support ambulance en route to the hospital to provide advance life support, Gorman said.
In an interview over the summer, Gorman said that it would cost the town between $500,000 and $700,000 to upgrade its ambulance service from basic to advance life support.
But at the Town Council meeting on Dec. 17, Galligan said that the town could obtain advance life support services for no additional cost. He did not elaborate how that would be done.
The Patrie incident is not the first time that the town has inquired about its ambulance services.
In March 2012, Gorman appeared before the council to discuss the services that South Windsor Ambulance provides.
At that meeting, Gorman said that South Windsor Ambulance responds to 1,600 to 1,800 calls per year. Out of those calls, about 40 percent are “advance life support calls,” Gorman said.
At that meeting, Town Councilor Keith Yagaloff said that he was wondering if a policy change should be made.