A HSE ambulance may have passed the seriously injured toddler, Vakaris Martinaitis, as he was being rushed to hospital in a neighbour’s car under Garda escort.
The situation was revealed by Ireland’s most senior national ambulance service official during a lengthy discussion on the death of the little boy just days before his second birthday.
Robert Morton, speaking after he met with local politicians to allay fears over service standards in the wake of the little boy’s death, insisted an ambulance was always available to treat the child.
The director of the National Ambulance Service said a 999 call was received at 2pm on the day and lasted three minutes.
At 2.02pm, the dispatcher alerted an ambulance travelling from Cork University Hospital to its base in Youghal, asking it to attend the scene. However, two minutes later — a minute after the 999 call by former Cork hurler Kevin Hennessy ended — the dispatcher called off the vehicle.
Mr Morton said that although a review is taking place into why this occurred, it is “reasonable to assume” this decision was due to the level of information given in the call about the boy’s injuries.
He said, due to its destination, it is likely this ambulance subsequently passed the boy on the road to Youghal as Mr Hennessy rushed him to CUH.
“It is possible. I’m not immediately aware of where SouthDoc [where Vakaris was first brought to after the 999 call] is located in Midleton, but it is possible they may have passed on the road. It [the ambulance] just continued back on its way to base. On that day that base was Youghal. So it would have passed by Midleton.”
A key part of the HSE investigation into the death is the question of whether the 999 call ended with the caller being told no ambulance was available, or whether the person was told none was available because Vakaris’s injuries were believed to not be as serious as transpired.
Despite the need for clarity, the HSE has declined to release the audio of the call or a word-for-word transcript of what was said.
HSE officials said this is because such information is central to the ongoing investigation — meaning any publication of the conversation might negatively influence the review.
It is also understood the tape and transcript are not being made available as they would identify the ambulance dispatcher, and would be traumatic for both the family of Vakaris and Mr Hennessy.
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