Paramedics trying to reach seizure boy on pitch locked out by five padlocks
A father has spoken of his anger after an ambulance was delayed by 11 vital minutes in reaching his son after he collapsed and swallowed his tongue during a football match - because of a padlocked gate at a leisure centre.
The family of Cameron Moss have received an apology after paramedics were stopped from reaching the 14-year-old as he lay injured on a pitch at the Valley Leisure Centre in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim.
Ambulance crews rushed to the scene but were stopped from entering the pitch by a gate which had five padlocks.
At one stage, a set of bolt cutters was produced to try and get the ambulance access to the teen.
As the young student lay fitting on the pitch, Cameron's father and twin brother watched on in horror.
The distressing scenes unfolded at an outdoor pitch at the Valley Leisure Centre on Saturday morning during an under-15s match between Dungoyne FC and St Mary's FC in the South Belfast Premier League.
Speaking afterwards, Andrew Moss said he feared his son was dying after he collapsed and fell unconscious after a tackle.
The young player had swallowed his tongue and was suffering fits as he lay on the grass.
An ambulance was called at 11.29am while trained first aiders attempted to help young Cameron.
It arrived at the scene six minutes later but its crew was confronted by a gate which had been bolted shut with five padlocks.
The boy's twin brother Connor and his father were watching the events all unfold.
The father told of his panic when he realised the ambulance could not reach his son.
"He was playing football with about 15 minutes to go and the boys went for the ball and he was hit on the head and collapsed on the ground," he said.
"For a couple of seconds, we thought he would get back up again but he never moved.
"Our coach, a fireman who is trained in first aid, ran on and another parent, an off duty ambulance driver, rushed to help Cameron.
"I realised it was serious and he wasn't moving.
"I ran up and he was still unconscious and he had swallowed his tongue."
Andrew said the minutes waiting for medical assistance felt like an eternity.
"It seemed like forever," he said.
"He came round but started taking a fit. He was fitting for a couple of minutes and was in and out of consciousness.
"I saw two ambulance drivers with their kit and someone ran down to meet them. They made us aware they couldn't get in."
The paramedics accessed the pitch on foot and began working on the teenager. The gate was eventually opened and the ambulance allowed through a full 11 minutes after it arrived on the scene. Cameron was then taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for treatment.
The concerned dad revealed his son has made a full recovery - but he could have been facing a much worse outcome.
"If it had have been a heart attack, it would have been the difference between life and death," he said.
"He ended up with fluid in his knee and is on crutches now but head-wise, he seems okay."
At one stage during the ordeal, a Valley Leisure Centre worker arrived at the gates with large bolt cutters but it is understood they were not needed in the end.
Andrew added: "I had no contact with anyone from the Valley. It is a disgrace. It could have been a life or death situation. I feel lucky.
"The leisure centre needs to look at how they are running events.
"Surely there must be a health and safety plan in place for emergency services?"
A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said it received a call at 11.29am indicating a 14-year-old boy was short of breath and had been unconscious.
"We arrived at 11.35 but had difficulty getting on the pitch," the NIAS spokesman said.
"The crew left the scene at 12.05."
Davy Livingstone, secretary of Dungoyne FC, said: "We are very concerned about what went on on Saturday.
"There should always be access for emergency vehicles.
"It is lucky we are not talking about a fatality."
A spokesman for the South Belfast League said he didn't realise how difficult it would be for an ambulance to access the site.