Mum saves baby's life when ambulance fails to show

PUBLISHED: 08:00 24 December 2012

Nicholas Carter and partner Marie Brinkworth with baby Oliver.

Nicholas Carter and partner Marie Brinkworth with baby Oliver.

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THE parents of a two-week-old baby say something went 'incredibly wrong' when they were forced to try to resuscitate their son twice when an ambulance did not show up.

Nicholas Carter and Marie Fricker say they are sure baby Oliver would have died had they not decided to take him to Bristol Children’s Hospital themselves when he stopped breathing the first time.

The baby, a week old at the time, had gone limp and blue in the lounge of the couple’s home in Riverside Close, St Georges last Monday.

Preschool assistant Marie, who luckily had first aid training, began to massage Oliver’s chest while dialling 999.

But despite assurances from two control room staff and an NHS Direct nurse who called her, no ambulance emerged.

A rapid response vehicle showed up 90 minutes after the first 999 call, but in the meantime, the couple had made the decision to drive to the hospital themselves.

Oliver stopped breathing again moments from reaching doctors and 37-year-old Marie was unable to bring him round a second time.

On reaching the hospital medical experts managed to resuscitate him.

Marie, who also has three other children, said: “I first noticed there was something wrong when I went to lift him and I knew something wasn’t right by his colour and how limp he was.

“I thought ‘something’s wrong’ and my nine-year-old asked me if he was dead. I tried to rouse him and he felt cold, so I moved away from the other children into the other room.

“He wasn’t breathing so I started to massage his chest and dialled 999 and was told ‘be assured, help is on its way’. They had to take another call and Oliver started to become a bit more alert and was making noises.

“After 10 minutes there was no sign of an ambulance and I was trying to control myself. I dialled 999 again and spoke to someone different who also told me help was on its way. I told them I still needed help.

“A nurse then called me and she told me the ambulance service was very busy that night. I didn’t want to hear that when I had almost lost my baby. So we decided to take him to the children’s hospital ourselves.

“Not far from there he stopped breathing again. I started massaging his chest but he was so limp. He was blue and lifeless. It was absolutely horrendous and something went incredibly wrong with the ambulance service.

“By the time the first paramedic showed up at 9.30pm we had already arrived at the hospital and he had been resuscitated a second time. I hope we can prevent the same thing happening again to anyone else.”

Doctors kept Oliver in overnight, but are carrying out further tests to try to discover what caused him to stop breathing.

Nicholas, also 37, added: “I am thankful nothing happened to our baby, but I don’t want anyone else to go through this.”

A Great Western Ambulance Service spokesman said: ““We are sorry the family are concerned about how we responded to their 999 call for their young baby, but hope he is recovering well. We have received a complaint from the family and have contacted them to assure them a full investigation will be carried out.

“That investigation is now under way and we would look to share its findings with the family in the first instance.

“If patients or their families have concerns about the care we provide, we encourage them to share those with us as we use them as genuine opportunities to identify how we can make improvements.”

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