Cardiff mum's horror as 'completely unresponsive' toddler faces eight-hour ambulance wait

Article by ITV Wales journalist Rosie Mercer, video report by ITV Wales Health Reporter Katie Fenton

The mother of a two-year-old boy who faced an eight-hour wait for an ambulance despite him being "completely unresponsive" has described the experience as "one of the most traumatic" of her life.

Georgia Faith Johnson, a single mum, said her two-year-old son Tobias started having a seizure at their home in Cardiff on Monday (17 October) at around 5:45pm.

Ms Johnson told ITV News her son's eyes began "rolling to the back of his head" and he became completely unresponsive, prompting her to call 999.

But in a now viral social media post, Ms Johnson said she was told by the emergency call handler that there was an eight-hour wait for an ambulance.

She bundled her young son in to the car to drive him to hospital herself, but five minutes into the drive he took another turn for the worse.

"I looked back to my son in his car seat to see any mum's worst nightmare, my son's colour had drained from his face, his lips blue and he was completely floppy and lifeless", she said.

'Any mum's worst nightmare'

Ms Johnson described pulling over and calling 999 again, who asked her to check if her son was still breathing.

She explained: "Out of instinct I just reached behind me, unplugged him from his car seat and dragged him into the front seat to see that his breathing was going ten to the dozen.

"At this point a man had pulled over into the bus lane, where I was, and started assisting me straight away. The call handler for 999 told me that I needed to get him out of the car and lay him flat on his back, on the ground and ask for someone nearby to get a defibrillator (completely impossible as we were on a dual carriageway and the nearest one was in Morrisons which was behind us).

"The man and the younger boy both assisted me with this and even provided a fleecy blanket from their van so that my son would be more comfortable on the cold road.

Georgia said her experience was 'every mum's worst nightmare' Credit: Georgia Faith Johnson

"Still on the phone to the call handler who was just listening to this all unravel, I then begged for her to just send an ambulance to which she responded that there was still a 5 hour wait and there was nothing that she could do.

"Obviously at this point I was completely besides myself and felt absolutely helpless. This is when another 2 kind people jumped into helping us bring my son back around (at this point the seizure had been going on for over half an hour) one of these was a lady trained in first aid who managed to get my son into the recovery position and another man who worked for the fire department in Roath.

"Once in the recovery position, my son came around and started crying, which was of course music to my ears."

Ms Johnson said she believes someone "must have been watching over us", because shortly afterwards an ambulance and two paramedics saw them and jumped into action to help.

Ms Johnson continued: "A random ambulance and two paramedics that were also stuck in the traffic saw us and also jumped into action to help my little boy, pulling him straight up onto the truck and blue lighting us both to the hospital, where he needed sedating to stop the seizure that had been going on for over an hour."

Tobias was treated at the University Hospital of Wales. Credit: Georgia Faith Johnson

Reflecting on her experiences, Ms Johnson told ITV News what happened had left her feeling "completely helpless and desperate."

She said her son Tobias is now recovering having been treated "by the best team"at the University Hospital of Wales, but she feared something similar happening again.

"To think I could be in that situation again is just petrifying", Ms Johnson told ITV News.

Sonia Thompson, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Assistant Director of Operations (Emergency Medical Service), said: “We are deeply sorry about Georgia’s experience, which we know will have been distressing and fraught for all involved.

“Extreme pressure on our ambulance service, including protracted hospital handover delays, seriously affects our ability to reach patients as quickly as we would like.

“We continue to work with Local Health Board and Welsh Government partners to try and implement meaningful and sustainable change.

“The public can help by only calling 999 in a serious or life-threatening emergency, so that our precious resources are available for those who need us most.

“We invite Georgia to contact our Putting Things Right team so we can investigate the incident further, and send her son our best wishes on his continued recovery.”

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