Three children, including five-month-old twins, are in a stable condition and expected to make a full recovery after suffering burns in a petrol can fireball accident in West Cork.
Gardaí confirmed that following a forensic examination of the family home just outside Drinagh yesterday, they are treating the fire as accidental.
It is understood that as the children’s father had been using a chainsaw in the garden at around 6.30pm on Wednesday, a petrol can was carried into the front room of the house, where a fire was lighting.
There was an accidental spillage of the fuel near the fire which sparked a fireball, engulfing the children — the twin brother and sister, and their 17-month-old brother.
A major emergency response was triggered involving advance paramedics, the West Cork Rapid Response, local fire crews, gardaí, the local Toe Head Coast Guard unit, and the Shannon-based Rescue 115 helicopter, which landed in a field alongside the house.
The children were treated at the scene — they were wrapped in specialist dressings and given powerful pain relief — before being airlifted, along with three advance paramedics and their parents to Cork Airport, from where they were transferred by ambulances to Cork University Hospital (CUH) around 8pm.
Following an assessment by emergency medicine consultants, and burns and plastic surgeon specialists, the 17-month-old and one of the twins were transferred to a general ward. The other twin remained in intensive care yesterday.
However, while all three face weeks of treatment and dressings for their burn injuries, they are expected to make a full recovery.
The emergency services were praised last night for their swift and professional response, which ensured the children received the right treatment as quickly as possible, and were rushed to hospital within 90 minutes of the accident.
The use of the helicopter also ensured that West Cork’s advance paramedics and ambulance, based in Dunmanway, were available to respond to a cardiac arrest incident in the region later that night, which unfortunately had a tragic outcome.
However, the burns incident put the spotlight back on the absence of a helipad at CUH, which was decommissioned 13 years ago during the construction of its new emergency department. Hospital management revealed plans in July to seek planning permission before the end of the year for a new helipad on the hospital campus.
HSE officials are due to update members of the HSE South Regional Forum on that project today.
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