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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

MAGGIE’S CALL | Co Antrim family call for change to emergency response after daughter’s death

A County Antrim family has set up an online petition calling for change to how the Fire Service is used to respond to emergency medical situations, especially in isolated and vulnerable rural communities across Northern Ireland.

The Black family who live in Glenarm, on the East Antrim coast, experienced a devastating loss when their daughter Maggie sadly passed away at the family home on 1 December.

The family explained that they “will never be able to put into words the impact of that morning’s events” when they had to wait 1 hour and 10 minutes on medics from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service to arrive as five-year-old Maggie’s very life was slipping away.

The heartbroken family are now calling for fundamental changes in Northern Ireland emergency response procedures, so that fire crews, who are trained with life-saving skills and carry an amount of life-saving equipment, can be dispatched to medical emergencies until ambulance crews arrive.

The online petition has at time of publishing, gathered over 8,000 signatures of support.

The Black family stated:

We want a guarantee that the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service will be dispatched to emergency calls in Carnlough, Glenarm, The Glens of Antrim, and all rural areas in Northern Ireland.

“On the morning of 1 December 2021, our lives changed forever, as we lost our innocent, fun-loving, beautiful ‘Wee Maggie’. She was the light of our lives, who made an impression on everyone she met.

“We as a family will never be able to put into words the impact of that morning’s events.

“Whilst we are under no illusion about the pressures and strains on the ambulance service, it is surely unacceptable that we had to wait one hour and ten minutes for an ambulance to arrive when our five-year-old daughter’s life was at stake.

“Fortunately, we contacted a family member, a local firefighter, to come to the scene, he then dispatched the fire crew. We are truly grateful for the medical expertise, professionalism and kindness demonstrated by the fire service.

“As first responders with lifesaving equipment, we know that Maggie was given the best available support, and this is the greatest comfort to us at this time.

“We as a family and our community are truly shocked, worried and saddened that the dispatch of the fire service is not an automatic response in these situations.

“Sadly, not everyone in our community will get access to this emergency medical assistance during the crucial ‘golden hour’. This can ultimately mean the difference between life and death.

“We appeal to you in Maggie’s memory, to guarantee the mandatory dispatch of the fire service in emergency situations to support our vulnerable rural families and ultimately give us all the best chance of life.

“You will be asked to ‘chip in’ or ‘share’. We would really appreciate it if you would sign and share the petition. Please remember to confirm your signature via your email account otherwise your signature will not count.”

To show your support for the Black family’s petition, you can sign the petition at the link below:


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