Teenager died from cardiac arrest after 17 minute wait for ambulance, family say

Jamie Rees's parents told ITV News that they felt he had been "robbed of his life"

The family of a teenager who died after a cardiac arrest have said his life could have been saved - if only a defibrillator stationed three-and-a-half minutes away had not been inside a locked building.

Jamie Rees died from a cardiac arrest in Rugby after waiting just over 17 minutes for an ambulance.

A station nearby had recently been closed, but the West Midlands Ambulance Service have said they did not believe this was responsible, highlighting a spike in emergency calls at the time.

Speaking to ITV News Central, Jamie's father said "he didn't have to go."

His mother, Naomi, agreed. "It's like his life was stolen," she said.

She adds: "I don't think people realise how narrow the time scale is that you've got once your heart stops, the oxygen starvation to the brain - it gives you less than nine minutes."

She said: "When I spoke to West Midlands ambulance trust it was the lady on the phone that actually said to me 'well we're actually told eight minutes. And I said to her, 'yet you didn't get to him for seventeen and a half'.

"It's almost like they knew before they got to him that there wasn't much chance of saving him."

She concluded: "His chances were so slim. We just feel like he's been robbed of his life."

Jamie had suffered an unexplained cardiac arrest whilst out with friends on New Years Day, and he died in hospital four days later.

A report issued by the ambulance service shows that he could have survived, had an ambulance got to him sooner.

On the day Jamie died he donated organs to five people, including a a baby girl who was saved on the night he died, after she received a liver transplant from Jamie.

Jamie's family have been fundraising since his death, to raise money for defibrillators to be put up in the area.

Jamie's mother described him as 'always funny, always happy'

"He's just everywhere," said Jamie's mother, Naomi. "Everybody loved him".

"Everybody just thought the absolute world of him, and there was something one of his school friends said to us - a couple of weeks ago - that they had never ever heard a negative word about Jamie."

"He was always funny, always happy, and everybody just loved him."

She adds: "He always aspired to be like me, they're 100's of pictures where he's looking up at me - and now it's the other way around. 

"Now I feel like 50% of me is missing constantly."

In a statement, West Midlands Ambulance Service said: "We would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family of Jamie Rees and apologise for the delay in responding on New Year’s Day.

"New Year's Day was the busiest the trust has ever experienced, nearly a quarter busier than the previous busiest New Year’s Day."

But mother Naomi has pointed out that in the circumstances Jamie would have been classed as a category one patient - someone experiencing a life-threatening injury or illness.

In that case, an ambulance should have attended within eight minutes. If it had done, it is possible he would still be alive today, she said.