Toddler with seizure left waiting 36 minutes for West Midlands ambulance after 999 call

ITV News Central Reporter Ravneet Nandra hears from a mum and dad who say they waited too long for an ambulance to help their one-year-old from a febrile convulsion

Parents who waited five times longer than they should have for an ambulance to arrive when their baby "turned blue" have recalled screaming in fear.

Cally Childs, whose toddler was unwell, called for an ambulance and told the call handler she was "turning blue and grey".

One-year-old Myla Childs, from Ludlow in Shropshire, had a high temperature which quickly turned into a febrile convulsion. A febrile seizure can happen when a child has a fever and they most often happen between the ages of six months and three years, according to the NHS.

Ms Childs told ITV Central she was terrified while waiting for the ambulance, saying: "I think I was just screaming."

They were told an ambulance was arriving soon but due to the lack of ambulances available in Shropshire, one from Hereford arrived instead, taking 36 minutes and 59 seconds after the initial call.

This was a Category 1 call which means life-threatening or serious. Ambulance crews aim to arrive to these calls within eight minutes.

'We knew we were going to be waiting a while' when we heard the ambulance was coming from Hereford and not Shropshire, Myla's dad Darren Childs says

Her parents have said it took too long to arrive and more ambulances need to be available in Shropshire to get to the more rural areas earlier.

Dad, Darren Childs, said: "After probably around the 15 minute mark, we asked again 'where are they?' and that's when we knew they were coming from Hereford because Shropshire didn't have anyone available to come.'

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: "We would like to apologise to Mr and Mrs Childs for the time it took to reach their daughter. 

"Our staff are working tirelessly to respond to patients as soon as we can.

"At the time of the call, all 27 ambulances in Shropshire were with patients, so the nearest available ambulance was sent, from Hereford which is 24 miles away from the location; Shrewsbury is 30 miles away.

"After assessment, the child was taken to hospital as a precaution. They went to Hereford County Hospital as the alternative would have been Princess Royal in Telford which is 31 miles away."

Campaign group Shropshire Defend our NHS have said it's not good enough and are calling for more support in rural areas - such as local ambulance stations or first responders.

This was a category 1 call which means life-threatening or serious. Ambulance crews aim to arrive to these calls within 8 minutes. Credit: ITV News Central

Chair, Gill George, said: "If we have local ambulance stations with that protected cover then, it's not about special favours for people in the countryside, but it's about saying that the lives in the rural parts of Shropshire matter just as much as the lives of people living in Shrewsbury or Telford.

"And of course they do. Every life is of equal value.

West Midlands Ambulance Service told ITV News there is a community first responder scheme in Ludlow, but the volunteers only respond to cardiac arrest cases so were not dispatched as they do not have the necessary training.

They also said the cost of achieving the same performance in a rural area as that of an urban one would be substantial.  Research by commissioners showed WMAS staff numbers would need to double and their ambulance fleet be increased by two thirds.

Myla's parents have started a petition for a south Shropshire ambulance hub so people in emergencies can be treated quicker.

Darren said: 'I get that there might be a delay of 40 or 50 minutes for the ambulance to get here but having that person with you who knows how to deal with that emergency in the first couple of minutes is the difference between life or death.