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Monday 19 February 2018

Where were you? begged mum

Ambulance arrived for cot death baby with elderly patient on board

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

AN AMBULANCE that attended a house where an infant had taken ill, half an hour after an emergency call had been made, already had an elderly patient on board.

Three-week-old Morfeusz Chlamtacz died in the early hours of Monday morning of a suspected cot death but his mother, Katarzyna, was kept waiting half an hour for an ambulance because of an error in the central control centre in Dublin that dispatched the ambulance to a similar address in the wrong county.

When the ambulance did arrive at the correct address in Tralee, it already had an elderly man onboard who had been collected from the Kerries area outside the town.

The distraught mother's first words to paramedics were: "Where were you?"

The National Ambulance Control Centre in Townsend Street, Dublin, which took over the function of local operators in the Cork and Kerry region in May, sent an ambulance to Tennis Village in Cork instead of an area known as Tennis Village in Killeen, Tralee, Co Kerry.

A doctor on call with South Doc was already at the scene when the ambulance finally arrived.

An advanced paramedic onboard the ambulance worked on the infant inside the house, frantically trying to resuscitate him.

Both he and his mother were then taken to Kerry General Hospital.

Meanwhile, the doctor had to remain with the elderly man until another ambulance arrived.

It is understood that in total, three ambulances ultimately attended the scene.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has acknowledged a gap of 30 minutes from when the 999 call was made at 1.16am on Monday and when the first ambulance arrived at the scene.

It has extended its sympathies to the Chlamtacz family, who are originally from Poland but have been living in Co Kerry for the past seven years.

The baby's distraught mother is being comforted by relatives in Tralee.

Her husband, Sebastian, was in Poland when his baby son died but returned to Tralee on Monday. The couple also have two daughters, Tola (5) and Kora (2).

Sebastian, who was visibly upset, spoke to the Irish Independent.

He said he doesn't understand what happened but said his wife is deeply traumatised by the death of their son.

"I'm still waiting to hear what happened and I don't know. It's very hard but I love my wife," he said.

A statement from the HSE said the National Ambulance Service was satisfied the "necessary protocols around responding to an emergency were adhered to in this case".

"Following an examination of the facts, the HSE can confirm that, despite the best efforts of ambulance control staff, there were significant challenges in establishing the exact location of the caller.

"Regrettably, this led to a delay in locating the patient," the statement added.

Local councillor and member of the HSE regional forum, John Joe Culloty, said he is aware of a number of other cases where errors were made since the new centralised office took over dealing with emergency calls.

"We were assured when the new service took over that everything would work out but now we know this is not the case," he said.

Health Minister James Reilly said: "I'm not familiar with the situation."

"I would be always concerned that the ambulance service would deliver on its responsibilities and arrive in the right place in a timely fashion to get the best service to people."

Irish Independent

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