A LITTLE girl tragically died after suffering from what her family first thought was a tummy bug.
Maggie Black felt sick for a few days but seemed relatively fine, before rapidly deteriorating.
She had told her mum she felt sick and seemed under the weather but it seemed “nothing unusual”.
Her family were then shocked when she suddenly became unwell on December 1 and stopped breathing.
She was rushed to hospital after waiting for an ambulance for over an hour after they raised they alarm, but died at 8am.
The Co Antrim schoolgirl was taken to hospital by the local fire crew, after her frantic mum, Sheenagh, went for help.
She had called 999 and then her sister-in-law, Margaret – who got the fire service involved.
The family are still waiting on the results of a post mortem investigation, and don’t yet know why their little girl died.
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Her aunt Margaret told Belfast Live: “Maggie was a fun loving wee girl who always had her happy face on. She was a happy child who loved everybody.
“Her hobbies were Tick Tack, playing the fiddle, camogie, farming, long walks and she was very fond of a trip to the coffee shop for marshmallows after. She loved school and was a very bright, talented child.
“We have been overwhelmed by the support, people have been so thoughtful and kind.”
The Blacks have started a petition for the fire service to be automatically dispatched in all similar situations.
The emotive petition liest: “On the morning of 1st 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.
‘LIGHT OF OUR LIVES’
“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 10 minutes for an ambulance to arrive when our five-year-old daughter’s life was at stake.
“Glücklicherweise, 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, this is the greatest comfort to us at this time.
“Traurig, 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.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said a number of community responder schemes are in place across the country alongside paramedics, but none in the family’s area.
They added volunteers willing to attend incidents involving children under 12, would be welcomed to help set up local groups.