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May 31, 2011

UK boy dies as ambulance crew takes break

By Paula Murray
Sunday Express

DUNDEE, Scotland — Grieving parents are demanding a public inquiry after their three-year-old son died while one ambulance crew took a tea break and another got lost trying to find their home.

Martin and Lisa Gray battled to save their son Martyn as the paramedics took more than 45 minutes to respond to a 999 call.

Ambulance chiefs last night apologized to the family and admitted the call took so long to answer because one crew based about 10 minutes away were on a break.

The team that did respond got lost twice on the way to their home.

Martyn awoke screaming in the night with blood in his mouth and then stopped breathing.

Lisa, 32, said: "We will never know if it would have made a difference if they had got there in time.

"We don't want to blame individuals because the rules say they are entitled to their break, that is what the law says.

"We just think there should be proper local cover. If it was me and I got a call that said a three-year-old had stopped breathing I would just drop everything and go but I suppose they answer to a higher power.

"The most angering thing we were told was that it was a holiday weekend and they were busy with the Royal Wedding. If they thought it was going to be busy, why were there not more staff on?"

Martyn, of Drummond Castle, near Crieff, Perth and Kinross, had previously had surgery for a blood vessel problem called arterial vascular malfunction but was otherwise healthy.

He was taken ill at 2:30am.

The couple are awaiting the results of a post mortem examination to establish the cause of death of their adored son. Having called an ambulance to their home on another occasion, they knew the local Crieff unit could arrive in 10 minutes.

As the crew was on a break, the nearest available team was dispatched from Stirling.

Martin, 32, said: "I feel strongly that if the local cre w are on a break there should be a back-up crew there to take over from them.

"We would like a full public investigation of what happened so it doesn't happen again.

"It won't bring Martyn back, but we wouldn't want anybod y to suffer the same way."

The couple have three othe r children, Chloe, 12, Luke, nine, and Caleb, six.

The Scottish Ambulance Service said: "All NHS staf f are entitled to an undisturbed break during their operational shift.

"This can prove challenging in rural ambulance stations which operate with smaller pools of staff than urban stations."

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