The tragic death of Vakaris Martinaitis has been central to Ireland’s health debate since the incident occurred two weeks ago.
But while protests, political rows and genuine concerns over the safety of the service have brought the case to national attention, a key issue in the tragedy remains in the background.
Rightly or wrongly, the HSE has repeatedly declined to release an audio or transcript of the three-minute 999 call made by ex-Cork hurler Kevin Hennessy to an ambulance dispatcher on Monday, May 6.
As a result of this call, a vehicle was sent out to treat Vakaris before being pulled back two minutes later.
This vehicle — travelling from CUH to its base in Youghal — is likely to have later passed by Vakaris as he was being rushed from Midleton to CUH in Mr Hennessy’s car, it was revealed yesterday.
While the exact words used are still unknown, publicly at least, what is known is Mr Hennessy and Vakaris’s family left believing no help was available for a boy who suffered head injuries after falling out of a second floor window.
The HSE has said an ambulance was available, but that the information given to it in the call suggested the injuries were not as severe as later transpired, meaning it was decided not to send the vehicle.
While officials are keen to not prejudice investigations, Mr Morton — who has heard the recording “five times” — said he is “satisfied all questions that need to be asked, were asked”.
“Based on the information provided, they [the ambulance dispatchers] sent the appropriate response.”
However, during a HSE South regional health forum meeting with local politicians yesterday, Mr Morton added he may have sent the ambulance anyway if it had been his decision.
Until a transcript or audio is released, claim and counter-claim will fill the vacuum of debate on why Vakaris was failed. And until his family at least are told, they are unlikely to receive full closure on a personal, avoidable tragedy.
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