During an inquest, it was revealed that the mother of a critically ill three-day-old baby had to endure a distressing wait of seven minutes before someone answered her 999 call. Following this, the family had to wait an additional 40 minutes for paramedics to arrive, according to the testimony presented.
The baby, named Wyllow-Raine Swinburn, was pronounced dead at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital shortly after being brought in, just five minutes after arrival in the early hours of September 30 of the previous year. As the family awaited an ambulance, they performed CPR on Wyllow-Raine for a duration of 40 minutes, during which her mother, Amelia Pill, made the emergency call upon realizing that the baby’s face was abnormally cold while attempting to breastfeed.
In the midst of this harrowing situation, Amelia’s mother, distraught and panicked, exclaimed that nobody was coming to their aid and expressed frustration at the prolonged wait for someone to respond to their distress call, as detailed in the inquest at Oxford Coroners Court. The 999 call was placed by Ms. Pill at 4:38 am and was finally answered five minutes later by a BT operator, whose responsibility is to monitor calls before they are connected.
According to Karen Sillicorn-Aston, the clinical governance lead for the South Central Ambulance Service, protocols dictate that the BT operator should transfer the call to the appropriate service, which, in this instance, was the East of England Ambulance Service. It took five minutes for the call to be redirected, and the family endured an additional two minutes on the line before their call was answered.
Although the nearest ambulance, estimated to be 20 to 25 minutes away, was dispatched, another closer unit was later located and dispatched instead. Despite this adjustment, it still took 40 minutes for paramedics to reach the scene. The inquest revealed that by the time the ambulance arrived, the baby’s body temperature had dropped to 30.8°C, despite the room temperature being normal prior to her collapse.
Dr. Darren Fowler, the pathologist, testified that the most probable cause of the baby’s death was natural, but he admitted he was not the most qualified person to determine if the baby would have survived had the ambulance arrived sooner.
The provisional cause of death was noted as sudden unexpected death in infancy, and the collapse remained unexplained. Concerns were raised by the family’s legal representatives regarding a potential unnoticed diabetes condition, as ambulance service records indicated that the baby had very low blood glucose levels.
During the hearing, the baby’s grandmother, Anna Fisher, recounted that Wyllow-Raine had a fever and was crying when put to bed at their family home in Didcot, Oxfordshire, around midnight. At approximately 4 am, Ms. Pill contacted her mother to report that the baby appeared to have stopped breathing. Upon arrival, Ms. Pill’s brother initiated CPR, describing a discoloration of the baby’s skin reminiscent of a bruise as he attempted to save her.
Within five minutes of arriving at the hospital, the family received the devastating news of Wyllow’s passing, as recounted by her grandmother. Coroner Darren Salter adjourned the hearing to allow for further evidence to be presented, with the resumption scheduled approximately six months from now, pending a fixed date.