FIREFIGHTERS spent almost two hours trying to free a youngster after he got his arm trapped inside a toy vending machine at a pub.
Alfie Vargas got his hand stuck inside the machine, in the children’s play area at the Old West Quay at Hartlepool Marina, during a family day out last week.
Fire crews used butter and washing-up liquid in their attempts to free him, but eventually had to cut a flap into the machine to release the youngster.
Paramedics attended but he was checked over later at a walk-in centre.
Luckily, Alfie did not suffer any broken bones, but he was left with bruising.
The delicate operation was lengthy because there wasn’t a key for the machine on the pub premises.
People pay £1 and turn a knob to get a plastic ball containing a toy out of the machine, and it is thought that little Alfie put his hand up the dispensing chute and turned the knob, trapping his arm.
The boy’s mum, Sharon Parkin, 36, said: “Alfie was upset and the paramedics were about to give him morphine, but luckily he got cut out at that moment.
“If there was a guard on, he wouldn’t have got his hand stuck.”
Sharon, from Horden, and her partner, Gavin Vargas, a 40-year-old test worker for npower, and Alfie were entertaining relatives who were visiting from Aylesbury, in Buckinghamshire, Gavin’s brother Emlyn Vargas, 43, Emlyn’s wife Julia, 36, and their children Charlotte, 14, Olivia, 10, and seven-year-old Eloise when the incident happened, around 1pm on Thursday.
Sharon, also mum to four-year-old Rosie, said the group had been crabbing at the marina when they decided to stop by at the pub, in Maritime Avenue, for a cup of tea.
She said the children were in the play area and Eloise came and asked for money for the toy machine for her and Alfie.
But minutes later, Eloise returned and said Alfie, who attends the Seascape Nursery in Peterlee, had got his hand stuck.
Julia tried freeing him with butter, but it refused to budge and within minutes the family rang the fire brigade.
“I didn’t know whether it was stopping his circulation because it was that tight,” said Sharon.
“It was such a stressful situation.”
The firefighters called for a paramedic, but Alfie would not take gas and air and was instead kept calm with Calpol.
The area of the pub, which was packed, was closed off, while the rescue operation was underway, but is now open as normal.
The pub’s general manager Anthony Tillbrook said: “The machine has got nothing to do with ourselves or our company, Whitbread.
“The site doesn’t hold the key as the machines are the sole responsibility of the vending company, Tyne Vend, which owns and maintains the machines.”
“Most licensed establishments nationally don’t keep the keys for their toy and game machines.”
Tyne Vend, based in North Shields, did not wish to comment.