Friday, 06 August 2021

Boy waits in vain for ambulance

THE parents of a boy who broke his arm had to take him to hospital themselves

THE parents of a boy who broke his arm had to take him to hospital themselves after being told an ambulance couldn’t attend.

Mackenzie Cusk, nine, had to undergo surgery and spent two nights in hospital after the accident on the towpath in Mill Meadows in Henley.

He injured his left arm after falling off his scooter while playing with his seven-year-old brother Dylan on Friday afternoon.

The boys were with their mother Kate Oldridge when the accident happened and all three waited in vain for an ambulance for 45 minutes with Mackenzie in severe pain. An off-duty nurse who stopped to help and other passers-by made several calls to South Central Ambulance Service and were initially told an ambulance was on its way.

Then they were informed it had been diverted to calls with greater priority.

Ms Oldridge, 40, of New Road, Lower Shiplake, told the

Henley Standard
: “Despite waiting for 45 minutes for an ambulance with a child who was in such desperate pain that he was in shock and nearly passed out, and bearing in mind we were too far along the river path to easily carry him to a car without a splint and a stretcher, the ambulance never arrived due to other calls that took priority.

“While I acknowledge that we may have stumbled across a bad time to have such an accident — during the Reading Festival — it does nevertheless alarm me that the ambulance service is so badly resourced that they could not attend such an emergency.

“While I have no doubts that paramedics are doing a wonderful job, I have serious concerns that further cuts to front-line essential services will result in further trauma for members of the public and will ultimately cost lives.”

An off-duty paramedic also stopped to help Mackenzie and another woman on a nearby boat provided blankets to keep him warm. Two other women with prams offered their coats and cardigans.

The boy’s father Patrick Cusk, who lives in Mapledurham village, arrived with his partner Rachel Butterworth and carried his son to his car.

He said: “Mack was lying on the towpath, covered in blankets, very pale and trembling. He was in a lot of pain and had been lying there for probably 40 minutes. He was really, really brave, lying on the pavement for all that time.

“We thought we had to get him in the car and to the hospital as quickly as we could.”

When they arrived at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading Mackenzie was given diamorphine and nitrous oxide to ease the pain. An X-ray revealed he had a break near his elbow.

He was kept in overnight and on Saturday lunchtime had an operation to pin his left humerus to help it fuse.

He woke up after the surgery to find his arm in a plaster cast. He was discharged on Sunday.

Mr Cusk said: “Obviously the ambulance needs to go to the highest priority places first and they can’t have limitless ambulances. I think the one message from all of this is if your child breaks a limb get in a car and take them to a hospital yourself.”

Mackenzie, who starts a new term at the Oratory Preparatory School in Goring Heath on Monday, said he was disappointed at not being able to go swimming for a while.

Ms Oldridge thanks all those who came to her son’s aid in a letter to this week’s

Henley Standard.

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust would only confirm that it received a call to the incident.

A spokeswoman said: “We take our response to our patients very seriously and we are in the process of reviewing the call and therefore are not able to comment further at this time.”

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