THE wife of a man who died while waiting for an ambulance during Rhyl Air Show said he may have survived if they had arrived sooner.

Emma Latham said her husband Steven, 43, died “in absolute agony” after collapsing on a footbridge while vintage planes flew overhead.

Ms Latham rang 999 shortly after he fell ill but an ambulance didn’t arrive until nearly 40 minutes later.

She claims a first responder paramedic just watched after he collapsed and when ambulance paramedics found him slumped unconscious on the ground they didn’t bother performing CPR or emergency treatment at the scene either.

North Wales Pioneer: Steven and Emma on their wedding daySteven and Emma on their wedding day (Image: Submitted)
He later died in hospital.

She later complained about the delay and her husband’s treatment and says when the trust tried to sweep it under the carpet she took legal action.

Emma then spent nine years fighting them over her husband's treatment before the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust finally made an undisclosed settlement to keep the case out of court.

But now, on the 10-year anniversary of her husband’s death, Ms Latham is speaking out to warn others about delays and says her payout proves medics were in the wrong.

Emma said last night: “My Steven would still be here without ambulance delays and if he had been given proper care.  I still relive what happened everyday. I see my husband gasping for breath and begging for help with the paramedic kneeling beside him watching him slowly die. Overnight I lost my husband, business, work and health. 

“When I complained they spent years fighting me instead. They haven’t even said sorry. But the fact they have paid out shows they know they were in the wrong. People need to know the truth.

“Delays are worse than ever. I wish I had tried CPR myself. I’ll never trust a paramedic or ambulance again.”

Ms Latham was staying at a holiday caravan  in Towyn, North Wales with her husband and then two-year-old daughter Teegan (now 12) near to where the pair had just launched a successful cafe.

On the day of the show, after closing their cafe, they were standing on a footbridge in the town enjoying vintage plane fly bys as part of Rhyl air show when Steven suddenly developed  a severe burning pain in his chest.

Emma sat him down and called 999 as he was unable to walk and was short of breath.

The mum of two added: “He couldn’t move and was pleading for me to  help him saying he didn’t feel right. He was very clammy and was sweating. His pulse was so fast I couldn’t count it for the operator.”

North Wales Pioneer: Steven and daughter TeeganSteven and daughter Teegan (Image: Submitted)

Within 10 minutes a first responder paramedic arrived and she told him her husband had a history of high blood pressure and atrial fibrilliation.

He took his pulse and blood pressure and attached a mask and called for backup from an ambulance for a suspected heart attack.

The 46-year-old said: “I still thought it was just his heart condition. He started gasping for breath and was saying over and over again he wasn’t feeling right.”

Her husband then vomited brown bile before saying he was scared and wanted help before his head suddenly slumped and he stopped talking.

Emma - who also has a 31-year-old son from a previous relationship - added: “The paramedic had been just kneeling beside him listening to him beg for help. Then his head dropped like a stone and he slumped sideways and his head hit the paramedic’s bag. I could see his chest wasn’t moving and he was no longer gasping for breath and if he was breathing wasn't breathing normally.  I screamed to the paramedic “look, what’s going on?’ he said ‘He’s not vey well, we have to wait for the paramedics’, But he was a paramedic. He should have given him CPR as I know seconds matter. I had no faith in him whatsoever.”

The ambulance crew arrived after he fell unconscious - over half an hour after being called - and apologised for being late but still didn’t treat him at the scene.

Despite being told about his heart condition and seeing him unconscious and not breathing normally she says they also failed to perform CPR or even use a defibrillator.


Emma - who has since been registered disabled with MS - added: “They didn’t try anything to help my Steven where he was. As he was being taken down in the chair to the ambulance, he looked like a rag doll as he was so limp. He had an oxygen bag on top of his head instead of on his face and the cannula needle they had in his arm for a fluid bag had fallen out. I couldn’t believe it. This was supposed to be the help Steven had been waiting for and they failed him.

“I feel he was let down twice, by the first paramedic who just waited for the ambulance and the ambulance crew when they arrived at the scene. The least I would have expected was CPR on the bridge. He was totally let down by them all.”

Steven later died following the heart attack in A&E at the nearby Glan Clwyd hospital.

After his funeral Emma made a complaint to the ambulance trust but after they claimed in a response to have shocked him with a defibrillator and gave him cpr on the way to the hospital, she decided to take legal action.

Emma, from Wythenshaw in Manchester, added: “They were claiming to have shocked Steven but I wasn’t in the ambulance. But when I saw him in the hospital after he died he still had his intact T-shirt on and usually they rip or cut open your top to provide a shock. Things didn’t add up.”

Ms Latham instructed Carlos Lopez Head of Clinical Negligence at Express Solicitors to take legal action to find out how her husband died.

The trust spent the next nine years fighting her claim before reaching an undisclosed settlement to stop details of her husband’s death going to court.

Carlos Lopez added: “This was never about money. Ms Latham wanted justice for Steven. As well as losing her husband and career she has also since lost her health. Hopefully this settlement goes some way in helping her to rebuild her shattered life.”

Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service,  apologised and said: “Our thoughts remain with the family of Mr Latham, in particular on the 10-year anniversary of his death.

“Following a thorough investigation into Mrs Latham’s concerns, we have reached a settlement with the Latham family.

“We know this will be of little consolation to Mr Latham’s loved ones and would like to extend a sincere apology for what was a deeply distressing experience for all involved.

“Our thoughts remain with the Latham family at this difficult time.”