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New ambulance recruits “at last”

The Lerwick ambulance crew with general manager Milne Weir outside the Lerwick station. From left: Laura Thomson, Angus Galbraith, Martin McDermott, Andy Fuller, Milne Weir, Robert Appleby, Malcolm Macleod, Peter Smith, Elizabeth Reid, Simon Parker

A LENGTHY campaign to boost ambulance staffing in Shetland has finally paid off with the recruitment of six new technicians at the Lerwick station.

The Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) investment will mean the Lerwick ambulance station will be staffed throughout the day and night for seven days a week.

Local MSP Tavish Scott said the move had been long overdue and paid tribute to local crews for their dedication under difficult circumstances.

Scott also thanked SAS chairman David Garbutt for his efforts in ensuring the improvements were made.

“The Lerwick station has been understaffed and under resourced for far too long and I am very pleased that management have finally responded to staff complaints,” the MSP said.

At the moment due to staffing numbers ambulance crews are only on shift four nights a week, and work “on call” from home for three nights.

Once the new recruits start work one ambulance will be fully staffed for 24 hours throughout the week, while the second will continue with a mixture of “on call” and “on shift” working patterns.

Recruitment will start immediately with new ambulance technicians undertaking nine weeks of clinical and driver training.

This will be followed by 12 months probation working under a mentor before completing a further six weeks of classroom-based clinical study before the new recruits are fully qualified, after which they can continue training to become a full paramedic.

SAS north division general manager Milne Weir said this was part of the agency’s continued investment in improving its service.

“We have worked closely with our staff in Shetland to review demand patterns and shift rotas to provide the additional resources to boost ambulance cover,” he said.