Snowy struggle for mother and sick son

By Jennifer Lipman, December 22, 2010
Feeling better: Zack

Feeling better: Zack

A mother-of-three has told of her "terrifying" struggle through snowy London to take her ill son to hospital.

Suzanne Baum, a writer from Finchley, became concerned about nine-year-old Zack on Saturday morning after he complained of a fever. Within hours he had a temperature of nearly 40 and said that his eyes were hurting.

"He was fading in and out of consciousness and I began to think it could be meningitis," said Mrs Baum.

Frantic calls to her GP and to Charedi ambulance service Hatzola yielded nothing; both were stuck in the snow. She telephoned 999, but the ambulance service said it could not say how long it would be before paramedics could get to her.

"By this point his temperature was going up and he was screaming in agony. When the ambulance eventually arrived, several hours after her first call, the driver was not from the area and Mrs Baum had to direct him to the Royal Free hospital. "I was looking after my sick child and directing to the hospital at the same time – it was a joke."

A doctor checked on Zack and ruled out meningitis. But the hospital was overwhelmed by the number of snow injuries and could not guarantee him a bed for the night, so in the end the family went home for Zack to recover.

"He's fine now," said Mrs Baum. "But it was a complete nightmare."

Last updated: 3:20pm, December 22 2010