Ambulance for ill infant was sent to wrong county

A baby has died in tragic circumstances involving an ambulance which took 30 minutes to arrive because it was sent to the wrong county.

The HSE has confirmed there were “significant challenges in establishing the exact location of the caller” who raised the alarm — just weeks after a similar tragedy in the same region.

While officials declined to comment in more detail, it is understood an ambulance was initially sent to Bishopstown in Cork City, despite the call coming from Tralee in Co Kerry.

Informed sources told the Irish Examiner that just after 1am on Tuesday the national ambulance service received a 999 call from a distressed family member after the child suffered a sudden illness.

The caller, who moved to Tralee from eastern Europe, phoned from near the Tennis Village complex in the town, and gave the location to help the emergency services in reaching the seriously ill infant.

However, due to what is believed to have been a misunderstanding between the caller and the service, an ambulance was instead rushed from Cork City to nearby Bishopstown — where there is also a Tennis Village site.

The HSE said that after the mistake was realised, the first “emergency response vehicle” arrived at the scene within 30 minutes of the 999 call.

However, sources said the first ambulance arrived at the scene after 48 minutes.

The infant, whose name has not been revealed, passed away on Tuesday morning.

However, it is unclear if the communications error had any impact on the incident or whether the child’s life could have been saved.

In a statement, the HSE said it believed the necessary protocols were adhered to by staff.

“The HSE extends its deepest sympathies to the family of the deceased infant. [We] can confirm that a 999 call was received at 01.16am on June 18. The first emergency resource arrived at the scene 30 minutes after the 999 call,” said a spokesperson.

“The ambulance service is satisfied the necessary protocols around responding to an emergency were adhered to in this case.”

The situation comes at a time when the HSE is attempting to convince communities of the value of a new centralised national ambulance system.

This system — which has replaced the older, static ambulance base service — involves 999 emergency requests being sent to a national call centre in Dublin, which then sends out the nearest and most suitable vehicles.


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