Health Minister urged to consider despatch of fire service when paramedics are delayed
The family of a five-year-old girl who died suddenly after they were were forced to wait for more than an hour for the emergency services when they reported her stomach pain in December have launched an online petition.
Rather than sit helpless with little Maggie in a critical condition, Sheenagh and Brian Black, from Glenarm were able to call on a family member, a firefighter, to try to help their daughter Maggie.
He was able to despatch a fire crew, and though Maggie’s life could not be saved, the family said that now, at least, they know they had done everything in their power to save their daughter.
Maggie’s mother has now started an online petition calling on the Health Minister to consider the mandatory despatch of the fire service in emergency situations where the wait for an ambulance means a life is under threat.
The family said that without the presence of a first responder on the scene they would have been left questioning had they done enough to give Maggie, a P2 pupil at St John’s Primary School in Carnlough, every chance of survival.
“We would love to see a guarantee that the Northern Ireland Fire Service will be dispatched to emergency calls in Carnlough, Glenarm, the Glens of Antrim and all rural areas in Northern Ireland,” said Maggie’s aunt, Margaret Quinn.
“As a family we don’t know what we would have done without the support at the scene from first responders. It may not have saved Maggie’s life, but we know she was given the best available support, this is the greatest comfort to us at this time. But that was because a family member was involved in the fire service.
“Whilst we are under no illusion about the pressures and strains on the ambulance service, it is surely unacceptable that we had to wait one hour and 10 minutes for an ambulance to arrive when a five-year-old’s life was at stake.”
Margaret said the family don’t want others to be left waiting in desperation for urgent medical assistance. “Just because some families live in rural areas doesn’t mean they don’t need the help like we did,” she said.
“We would love to see a commitment from the Health Minister that any first responder available could be sent to help those in need.
“We wanted to start this now, when Maggie is still fresh in the memory across the community.
“She was a very special girl and we’ve been so grateful to all the support shown to our family over the last month.
“Christmas was difficult for us all. There are other young children in the family, so we had to try to keep things as normal as possible for them, but we’ve got through it and now is the right time to make sure Maggie leaves an impression further afield.”
In just over 24 hours almost 10,000 people have already signed the petition.
“She was such a fun loving, infectious girl who made an impression on everyone she met,” said Magraret. “We know anything we achieve won’t bring Maggie back to us, but if it gives other families, other people in urgent need of lifesaving medical care, the opportunity to live we will have that in her memory.
No cause of death has yet been determined, with the family having to wait six months before any confirmation.
The family’s petition is available at change.org. Search for Maggie’s Call.