The family of a little boy whose life was put at risk by an ambulance delay have called for the local ambulance base just minutes from their home to be properly manned.
Kevin Griffin (2) was visiting from Boston with his mother and brothers when the incident occurred in Carraroe, Co Galway, last Friday evening. The family rushed him to hospital, moving from their car to a Garda car in Spiddal after the ambulance had still not arrived.
They are questioning why an ambulance base close to their home did not have a crew on duty to respond. "We need a manned ambulance full-time in Carraroe, they never seem to be there. They are always being taken into Galway to cover there. What is the point in having the ambulance base in Carraroe if we can't rely on it?" said the boy's uncle, Padraic Ó Cualaín.
The little boy began choking on a chip but vomited shortly after and dislodged it, before passing out.
"My sister got him awake again but he passed out a second time before we got to the hospital," said Mr Ó Cualain.
"When we were told the ambulance was on its way, I thought it would be a few minutes if it was coming from Carraroe. When I realised it wasn't in Carraroe, I felt we couldn't take a chance waiting and got him in the car," he added.
However, it was not until the family had reached the outskirts of the city that they finally met the ambulance. At that stage, the patrol car continued to hospital where Kevin remained until Monday.
It was the second time the family have been forced to call emergency services. In July 2016, Kevin's 21-month-old cousin Cillian Ó Cualaín (pictured) died tragically after a car accident at the family home.
"It had happened to us before when we lost our nephew. The Air Corps showed up that time, but unfortunately there was nothing that could be done," said Padraic.
The family have questioned why the ambulance base was opened in Carraroe if it is not properly used. "We're annoyed that the ambulance couldn't be sent from Carraroe and annoyed that the fire crew in Carraroe, who were experienced, weren't sent," he added.
The National Ambulance Service confirmed an emergency call was received at 5.51pm on January 5 - adding the call was categorised as an Omega response: minor illness or injury.
It dispatched the "nearest available emergency ambulance", from Clifden, at 5.52pm.
An emergency ambulance was later dispatched from Galway when the NEOC Nurse Adviser was informed the child was being taken to hospital by car. It said the child's condition remained Omega and "as such resuscitation of the patient was not indicated or required".