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Metal thieves leave Gornal man in danger after power cut to life support machine
11:51am Thursday 8th August 2013 in News
METAL thieves left a paralysed Gornal man’s life hanging in the balance when they cut the electricity supply to his home.
Tim Joplin, aged 61 of High Arcal Road, relies on a ventilator to keep him alive and when the power went off at 2am on Monday July 29, the life saving equipment had to run on battery power.
Mr Joplin, a former artist and lecturer at Dudley College was left wheelchair bound in 2003 when he developed an abscess that put pressure on his spinal cord.
He won a medical negligence claim against Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley in 2010 after a delay in his treatment led to him losing the use of his limbs.
His wife, Ruth Joplin, thought they were experiencing a power cut but when the electricity was still off when she woke up at 8am she called Western Power Distribution to see what was wrong.
It was while she was on the phone she noticed that overhead cables were missing from the electricity post at the bottom of her drive.
During the emergency Mrs Joplin got help from staff at the Texaco garage on Himley Road to charge the back-up batteries for her husband’s ventilators.
She said: “Tim has two ventilators so there is always a back-up but I was having to charge them every few hours. Luckily he had to go to hospital for a check-up but the lift that gets him from the bedroom to the ground floor needed a power supply as it doesn‘t have a battery back-up. I didn’t feel like there was any alternative but to call the ambulance service.”
Paramedics used mountain rescue style equipment to get Mr Joplin downstairs, an operation that took 30 minutes.
She added: “He was only supposed to stay in hospital overnight but they kept him in for a few days, we thought that would be the best place for him. When we came back on Thursday the power was back on, the electricity company pulled out all the stops knowing his situation.”
Mrs Joplin hopes by speaking out, she will encourage metal thieves to think twice in the future: “I would want whoever is responsible to be aware of the trouble they have caused and the cost involved with involving the emergency services. These people think they can steal to provide themselves with some cash and they don’t realise they put someone’s life at risk.”
Dudley South MP Chris Kelly said: “I hope that these criminals are caught and appropriately punished. They should be under no illusion that their actions have consequences in terms of people’s safety and in terms of the law.”
A West Midlands Police spokesman said the theft was being investigated and anyone with information should call 101.
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