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Ambulance service apologises to second Argyll family in as many days after neighbour steps in to rush injured 10-year-old boy to hospital

Rhys Chamberlain collapsed in pain after breaking his arm.
Rhys Chamberlain collapsed in pain after breaking his arm.

The ambulance service has apologised to another Argyll family after a mother was forced to bundle her son into a car as he collapsed from the pain of a broken arm.

The latest incident took place in the village of Ardrishaig.

It’s the same place where a man nearly died after suffering a massive heart attack when no ambulance was available.

It was only because a neighbour stepped in and drove Michael Heafey, 61, the three miles to Mid Argyll Community Hospital in Lochgilphead that he survived.

He later required a triple heart bypass operation in Glasgow.

Karen Heafey (left) was shocked how her dad Michael (right) was treated.

Paula Cameron, 41, told The Press and Journal about the day her 10-year-old son lay collapsed in a driveway for 35 minutes before a neighbour stepped in to help.

She warned: “Someone is going to die waiting for an ambulance if the situation is going to continue like this.”

The Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) issued an apology to Paula’s family the day after it apologised to Michael Heafey and his family.

Rhys Chamberlain, 10, had been cycling when he suffered a bad fall.

Paula said: “He was cycling around the garden on his bike when he went up on the verge, lost his balance and and fell on top of a metal green house frame and landed on his arm.

Rhys Chamberlain in hospital with a broken arm.

“He came in to tell me he broke his arm, it was swinging about like a helicopter.

“I opened the car door to take him straight to Mid Argyll Community Hospital when he collapsed in the road and sort of half rolled under the car.

“He was unconscious by this time.

“My neighbours saw it and came out and put him in the recovery position.

Paula phoned for an ambulance at 6.10pm but a neighbour eventually stepped in to help when 35 minutes had passed and there was no sign of it.

‘He was going a green yellowy colour’

She said: “The sweat was lashing off him, he was going a green yellowy colour.

“My neighbours lifted him into their car and took him to hospital.”

Staff shortages and high levels of demand across Scotland caused by the pandemic has led to major pressure on the Scottish Ambulance Service.

The situation has become so desperate that firefighters are being trained to drive ambulances and give first aid under the direction of a paramedic.

This is taking place in the north and north-east of Scotland, and hasn’t yet been rolled out to Argyll.

No ambulance was available for Rhys.

Paula added: “The staff were all amazing in Lochgilphead and Glasgow. That is not my complaint. My complaint is why did it take so long for an ambulance to come?

“The next day Rhys required three-hours of surgery and had metal rods put in his arm.”

‘People must have full confidence in the ambulance service’

Brendan O’Hara, MP for Argyll and Bute, has been in touch with Paula Cameron regarding the incident.

He wrote to the chief executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service following a number of concerns raised by constituents.

Brendan O’Hara, MP for Argyll and Bute.

Mr O’Hara said: “I have asked the ambulance service for an immediate investigation into Mr Heafey’s case and what went wrong there.

“I have also written to the chief executive, Pauline Howie, to make her aware of wider concern across Mid Argyll about service provision including the incident involving Rhys.

“People must have full confidence in ambulance service provision across the local area.”


Speaking about Rhys’s case, a spokesman for the ambulance service said: “We would like to apologise for the delay in responding to this patient.

“With restrictions continuing to ease, high levels of demand are currently being experienced by both the SAS and the wider health service.

“This is regrettably leading to delays but our staff are working tremendously hard during this challenging time to attend to patients as quickly as possible.

“All our calls are prioritised to ensure the most seriously ill patients are given the highest priority and unfortunately the crew responding to this incident was diverted to a higher priority call.”

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