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Saturday 20 September 2014

GAA star blasts HSE for not sending ambulance to aid of dying toddler

Published 10/05/2013 | 07:45

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Vakaris Martinaitis, inset, had to be driven to Cork University hospital because there was no ambulance available
Kevin Hennessy

ALL-Ireland winning hurler Kevin Hennessy, who drove a toddler critically injured in a fall to hospital, has criticised the HSE for failing to send an ambulance to his aid.

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The two-year-old boy died 48 hours after sustaining the horrific head injuries following the freak fall in Midleton, East Cork on Monday afternoon.

Former Midleton GAA star, Kevin Hennessy, who witnessed the tragic accident  brought  the boy and his distraught parents to the local GP  – and then drove him to hospital after being advised that the ambulance was already on a call out.

Mr Hennessy expressed his concern at the ambulance resources in the sprawling region.

“I don’t know if I could have saved him or not. He fell on his head. But it’s disgraceful that there wasn’t an ambulance to come for him,” he said.

“I am appalled by what happened.”

The toddler  apparently tumbled out the upstairs window of his home in a housing estate on the outskirts of the east Cork town.

The child, whose parents are Lithuanian, was rushed by Hennessy to a local doctor’s office for emergency treatment.

Hennessy explains he was driving past the house with his daughter when he saw the father in distress.

“ I noticed a man over a child in his front garden, I thought he was giving him the kiss of life," Hennessy explained.

“I shut the car off, and jumped over to see if I could help as I’ve done a lot of first aid courses."

Hennessy's daughter rang for an ambulance before handing the phone to her father.

“The dispatcher came on the line, I relayed what happened. The young child was crying, and the young man was crying.

“I tried to keep his head still, and the dispatcher told me that there is no ambulance available in our area. The man’s wife was at work and had the family car."

The dispatcher advised Hennessy to get the child seen by a medic. 

However Hennessy, who had received first aid training, expressed concern about moving someone with suspected head injuries. 

He says he was told it was okay to move the child, and to take him in his car to SouthDoc.

“I thought it was very strange over the phone but I moved him anyway. The child was crying but was conscious."

On being seen at the medical centre, the  family were advised to drive immediately to Cork University Hospital (CUH).

They were given an escort by Mideton Gardai and the child was assessed at the emergency unit before being placed on a life support machine.

Tragically, the child died 48 hours later without having regained consciousness.

The family were by the child’s hospital bedside and were today being comforted by friends at their home at Castleredmond on the Ballinacurra Road.

Health Minister James Reilly has ordered an investigation into the death of a toddler who died two days after being rushed to hospital by a neighbour because no ambulance was available.

Speaking at the Mount Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny after addressing a nurses union conference this morning, Dr Reilly expressed his deepest sympathies to the parents of the two-year-old.

Dr Reilly described the boy’s death as ‘a terrible tragedy’.

He said: “It’s a terrible loss for the family and I have asked for a report on it. We will investigate this.

“Ambulance service is a critical part of our health service and we will investigate what happened.”

It is the second tragic accident involving a child to hit the area in just over a month.

Last March, James Casey Butler (7) drowned after falling into the flood-swollen Owenacurra River as he played outside his Midleton home.

He had apparently gone through a hole in a protective fence to collect a lost football just minutes before he was to go home for his tea.

Despite two local men diving into the flooded river to drag Jamie to safety, he died 24 hours after being taken to CUH and then transferred to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Dublin.

Midleton-based Cllr Pat Buckley (SF) described the latest incident as “an appalling tragedy” and said the entire community was in shock.

Cllr Buckley has been campaigning over recent months for greater ambulance resources for the sprawling east Cork area

A Garda source said they are treating Monday’s incident as “a tragic accident.”

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