TWO ambulances – one of which was just 18 minutes away – and a first responder vehicle were available on the day a toddler lay dying from injuries sustained in a freak fall from an upstairs window of his home.
The revelation came as it emerged a catalogue of confusion marked the minutes after Vakaris Martinaitis was injured at his home at The Paddocks, Castleredmond, Midleton, at 2pm last Monday.
Vakaris had to be rushed to Cork University Hospital (CUH) from Midleton in the car of All-Ireland hurler Kevin Hennessy after the former Cork star was told no HSE ambulance was available in the area to respond.
The toddler's mother, Aukse, was at work with the family car and his distraught father, Vidas, had no transport.
The Lithuanian couple, who declined to comment further yesterday beyond saying "our hearts are broken", will hold their son's funeral today.
The little boy's organs were donated and four children benefited from transplants.
Vakaris, who would have been two on Saturday, was described by Vidas and Aukse as "a beautiful little boy. He had a wonderful smile and a good heart. He brought so much joy into our lives. Our hearts are broken that he is gone".
Mr Hennessy, a neighbour of Vidas and Aukse, is adamant he was told there was no ambulance in the area that day and that the child should be taken by private car to the SouthDoc GP cover clinic in the east Cork town.
It has now emerged there were two ambulances and a first responder vehicle available.
There is confusion over precisely what ambulance controllers were told about the circumstances in which Vakaris was injured.
Normal protocol is for the child not to have been moved from the scene except by a paramedic or doctor if injured in a fall from a height.
If a transfer by private car was unavoidable, the child should have been directed straight to CUH and not to a GP cover clinic, given the nature of the accident.
A private ambulance firm has insisted it had a vehicle available on the day and could have had a unit in Castleredmond within 20 minutes. The HSE has also confirmed, following a preliminary review of the call logs with the National Ambulance Service (HAS), it had an ambulance available.
Health Minister Dr James Reilly ordered a full probe into what happened and the HSE has now launched a formal incident review.
A spokesperson said: "In order to fully establish all the facts surrounding the management of this emergency call, including why the emergency ambulance was not made available, a formal review has been established... the review team, the make up of which is currently being finalised, will include experts in pre-hospital emergency care and primary care from both Ireland and the UK."
The young Lithuanian couple said they have been "overwhelmed" by the support shown by neighbours and friends.