An elderly man who was still driving after having five heart attacks caused a car accident that injured three when he suffered a sixth while behind the wheel.
Former lorry driver Peter, 75, was forced to leave his job when he had his first major heart attack aged 50, but continued to drive his own car until the accident, which injured three including a 58-year-old woman whose arm and leg were broken.
Peter, who appeared on the Channel 4 show 999: What’s Your Emergency?, said he finally swapped his car for a mobility scooter when it dawned on him that people could have died in the smash.
He said on the show he was ‘stubborn’ and didn’t ‘want to be told’ to give up driving, but admitted ‘if those people had died it would have been on my conscience for the rest of my life’.
A police officer who attended the incident near Bath has said he believes all drivers should have to take another test on turning 75.
Peter, 75, had already suffered five heart attacks and blacked out at the wheel when he suffered a sixth
He caused a car accident on a main road which injured three people and left one person with life-changing injuries
Peter was reluctant to give up driving despite his declining health, however he heeded the police warnings and chose to stop
PC Phil Bridge has called for ‘mandatory retesting for over-75’s’.
‘If he has no warning that these blackouts are occurring then he is just an accident waiting to happen,’ PC Bridge said in the programme.
‘He cannot be allowed to drive if he is that prone to heart attacks, the only problem is that we don’t have anything in place at the moment that regulates that.
‘I think there should be a mandatory retesting of drivers every few years from the age of 75, there has to be some sort of culpability.
‘I know it’s going to be difficult for the DLVA to put out a new process but our lives are worth it. There’s got to be thousands of people that have to be driving on the streets that shouldn’t have a license. Any one can be a ticking time bomb.’
Peter explained how he had suffered one major heart attack and four smaller ones since turning 50 – with the latest being his second in seven months – and had never had a car accident before.
PC Phil Bridge believes that elderly people over the age of 75 should face a mandatory driving test every few years to check on their ability
In the end Peter decided to hand in his license and opt for something slower. He swapped his car for a mobility scooter
He reflected on the collision: ‘I didn’t go out that day to have that accident or have that heart attack.
‘If someone told me that I had to give up driving I wouldn’t take any notice of them, because no one tells me what to do. I am very stubborn.’
But the pensioner finally heeded the police warning to hand over his license and decided to opt for an 8mph mobility scooter.
‘I still think about those people, they must have been really shocked. If those people had died that would have been on my conscience for the rest of my life,’ he added.
AGEING POPULATION IMPACTING THE EMERGENCY SERVICES
A rapidly growing number of calls to 999 come from the over-75s.
The ageing UK population – which now has an average life expectancy of 81 thanks to modern medicine and healthy living – is impacting the workloads of the police and especially the ambulance service.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has now replaced ischaemic heart diseases as the leading cause of death in England and Wales, accounting for 11.6 per cent of all deaths registered in 2015.
Paramedic Katie Hall reveals the toll on saving lives takes on her as she is seen attempting to save the life of an elderly man
In Channel 4’s 999: What’s Your Emergency PC Phil Bridge is called upon to help one 74-year-old woman who has gone missing with her two dogs while in her son’s care.
Sadly, he says it’s a regular situation in the Trowbridge area he polices: ‘They gravitate to where they know and the problem with towns is that they have changed so much from when they were younger.
‘We’ll head off to the wooded areas and train tracks, they’re very unpredictable.’
It was a heart-wrenching moment after the team fought for 20 minutes taking turns to do CPR on a man who had suffered a cardiac arrest
In Swindon, paramedics Katie Hall and Fran Mwangi attempted to save the life of a 74-year-old man who went into cardiac arrest at home after enjoying a day with his family.
‘The family are there watching you, you’re their only hope of getting them back but you see the age of a patient and you think it’s probably going to be futile,’ Katie said.
It’s an emotional moment as they fight for 20 minutes giving him CPR but unfortunately he passes away in his bedroom with his wife and daughter in the next room.
999: What’s Your Emergency returns next Monday on Channel 4 at 9pm