HSE disputes reports on Midleton tragedy ambulance

Tuesday 26 March 2013 07.08
James Casey Butler was pulled from the water near his home but later died
James Casey Butler was pulled from the water near his home but later died

The Health Service Executive has said it took just 19 minutes for an ambulance to respond to an emergency call in Cork at the weekend, not 45 minutes as stated in some newspaper reports.

Questions had been raised about the time it took for an ambulance to get to the scene of a tragedy in a Midleton river at the weekend.

Seven-year-old James Casey Butler was pulled from the water near his home at Tir Cluain on Saturday night, but later died.

There had also been criticism that the ambulance that brought the young boy to hospital had to travel from another town to the emergency.

In a statement today, the HSE said an emergency call was received at 6.40pm, and the nearest available emergency ambulance was dispatched and arrived at the scene at 6.59pm.

Normally based in Fermoy, it said the ambulance and crew were just leaving Cork University Hospital at the time of the call.

It said an off-duty advanced paramedic was also at the scene within seven minutes having received a local First Responder text.

In addition, the HSE said there is an agreement in place to land helicopters in the grounds of a rugby club near Cork University Hospital.

However, the Irish Coastguard Service confirmed they are awaiting the installation of lights before this can be used for night-time landings.

The Shannon-based rescue 117 helicopter had been tasked to the scene to lend help on Saturday, but it was decided the child would be brought by ambulance to Cork rather than by helicopter.

This is because Cork University Hospital has been without a helipad for ten years.

James and his friends had gained access to the river through a gap in a wire fence near the housing estate.

There have been calls for a proper wall between the housing estate and the river.

However, there is confusion over who would have responsibility to provide such a wall, as much of the estate is in NAMA following the liquidation of its developers, Fleming Construction.