'Ambulance's response too slow' - tot's washing machine capsule plight
A toddler who put a washing machine capsule in her mouth had to wait more than an hour for an ambulance, her parents have said.
Now her mother is encouraging all parents to learn CPR.
Amanda Seery, from Navan, Co Meath, was speaking after her 23-month-old daughter, Seren, swallowed one of the brightly coloured capsules.
"It happened in the blink of an eye - just a couple of seconds," said Amanda.
She said she and her husband, Peter, were followed into the sitting room by Seren, who was "blowing bubbles".
Peter ran into the kitchen and discovered that Seren had done something none of her six siblings had managed to do - open an "inaccessible" press and grab four of the capsules.
She put three into the washing machine and the fourth into her mouth.
"The brightly coloured capsules would have looked like sweets to Seren," said Amanda.
"I rang the National Poisons Helpline while Peter was trying to rinse out her mouth.
"I rang the ambulance at 3.48pm and it arrived just after 5pm."
Thankfully, Seren had tipped her head forward and was spitting out the capsule contents.
An advanced paramedic, who arrived by car before the ambulance, told the family that there was only mild irritation at the back of Seren's throat.
The closest hospital with a paediatric unit is Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
"The ambulance that came was from Inchicore in Dublin and not from Drogheda or Navan," said Amanda.
"They needed an ambulance because the car used by advanced paramedics are not able to transport patients.
"The HSE should either improve the response times for ambulances or put in place something else, even if it is just a unit for children at the hospital."
She said one of their sons cut his hand a few years ago and they rushed him to the local hospital, where they were told that they did not treat children in the emergency department.
Amanda and Peter said the response time for the ambulance for Seren was too long, and that an area like Navan, which has seen a huge growth in the population in the past 20 years, deserves a better service.
"Nobody, especially a child, should have to wait like that, especially if it's a life or death situation," said Amanda.
"I would recommend any parent in Co Meath - which is so far from a children's hospital or emergency department - to be trained in CPR."
The HSE confirmed that the National Ambulance Service received the call at 3.48pm.
"The call was triaged using the internationally recognised Advanced Medical Priority Dispatch System (AMPDS)," it said.
"This system prioritises calls using internationally agreed procedures and protocols thus ensuring that life-threatening and potentially life-threatening calls receive an appropriate response.
"The National Emergency Operations Centre dispatcher immediately allocated the nearest available emergency resources, which arrived at the scene at 4.11pm.
"The patient received pre-hospital emergency care at the scene by an advanced paramedic.
"An emergency ambulance was also dispatched to the scene, and the patient was attended to by the attending paramedics."
The HSE confirmed that Our Lady's Hospital in Navan did not have paediatric emergency services.