A young Hadleigh footballer who suffered a broken ankle was taken to hospital in a fire engine after being told to wait five hours for a paramedic.
Firefighters stepped in for an overstretched ambulance service as 16-year-old Henry Wilkins lay in agony after a tackle which left his ankle broken in two places.
The East of England Ambulance Service apologised to his family after an on-pitch medic, who was told to wait for five hours for an ambulance, called the fire service instead.
His mother, Claire Wilkins, 48, said: “The ambulance service obviously do a fantastic job but somebody is doing something wrong if they cannot get to people who have had serious injuries.
“He couldn’t be moved as he was in so much pain. Somewhere, money is going to the wrong places.”
A spokesman for the ambulance service said it was facing “significant pressures” when they were called on Wednesday night.
The Hadleigh United U-18’s midfielder’s left tibula and fibia were broken 15 minutes into a friendly game.
An on-pitch medic dialed 999 immediately but called for a fire engine when an operator said an ambulance would take five hours.
Mother-of-two Claire said: “The hospital was quite surprised to see a fire engine arrive and they did ask us a couple of times how we came to be there so late when the accident happened at 8pm.”
She hopes her son will make a full recovery after his leg was left bent out of shape after in a tackle.
Firefighters gave Henry oxygen for his pain before attaching a splint to his leg and lifting him on a stretcher in to the back of their vehicle.
Medics have inserted pins into his ankle to stabilise his broken bones and his leg will be in a caste for six weeks.
A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service apologised to Henry’s family, saying it was dealing with almost 150 serious or life-threatening calls in Suffolk at the time.
He added: “We would like to thank our emergency service colleagues for their support whilst we were prioritising those who were in serious or life-threatening conditions.