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Posted June 24, 2006 EST

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One Day They Could Be Too Late For Aaron
Five year old Aaron Heminsgley's parents fear their little boy will die because of a lack of ambulance service cover, they revealed last night. The youngster, an epileptic, regularly suffers massive fits and 999 calls are made from their family home in Bryncrug, near Tywyn.

His mother and father, Jackie and Wayne, told how they have had to wait up to 55 minutes for ambulances to arrive - leaving them fearing for Aaron's life.

The latest 999 call was on Wednesday and two ambulances were dispatched. The first was staffed only by a single paramedic, who was not allowed to take Aaron to hospital. A two-man vehicle arrived 40 minutes after the initial call.

Mr Hemingsley said: "Aaron came home from school at 12.45pm and was fine. A few minutes later he went into an epileptic state. I called 999 while my wife, Jackie, gave Aaron the first stage of drugs he needs.

"The ambulance took 20 minutes to arrive. The single paramedic on board spent 20 minutes resuscitating Aaron and then two colleagues in another ambulance arrived from Machynlleth."

Aaron has been suffering from epilepsy for the past three years. Mr Hemingsley said: "The longest we've had to wait is 55 minutes. That was at five o'clock in the morning. The nearest ambulance station is Tywyn, three miles away, but all too often the vehicles are on calls elsewhere and there just isn't the proper cover.

"This is a worrying time for all of us and we fear that one day the ambulance will be too late. The paramedics are great. They all know us and do their very best but they are stretched to the limit."

The 37-year old landscape gardener is also concerned that if Aaron needs hospital treatment vital minutes will be lost because of the distance ambulances have to travel.

"Tywyn hospital is only a few minutes away and oxygen is available there. But the minor injuries unit shuts at 6pm - after that it's Aberystwyth. That's an hour away at best.

"A side effect of the drugs means Aaron suffers breathing difficulties and on Wednesday the paramedics wanted him checked over by a doctor. But on that day there was no doctor available at Tywyn."

Tywyn Cottage Hospital is run by the North West Wales NHS Trust. A spokesman said: "The minor injury unit at Tywyn hospital is a nurse-led assessment unit. Children requiring a certain level of hospital treatment are referred to Ysbyty Bronglais."

Lisa Francis, Tory AM for mid and west Wales, said last night: "Until you live in a rural area you can't begin to understand the problems faced by families like Aaron's.

"It's not just about target times, it's about the actual service. More money needs to be spent. In the meantime I worry that any improvements may be too late for some."

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: "We cannot comment on individual cases, but trusts are ultimately responsible for ensuring that their hospitals are appropriately staffed. In terms of response times, we have made clear that the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust needs to modernise to ensure it improves its p e rformance."

Written by Daily Post; Liverpool

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