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Community / Men talk of experiences that led to bravery awards

TWO local heroes have spoken about their life-saving experiences after receiving Brave@Heart awards on Tuesday night.

Paramedic Angus Galbraith and EnQuest employee Jamie Manson stepped in to make life-saving interventions in very different circumstances which led to them being nominated for their courageous efforts.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave out the awards – the tenth such annual presentation – at a ceremony in Edinburgh Castle.

Angus, a joint team leader with the Scottish Ambulance Service in Lerwick, was just preparing the family tea on a Sunday afternoon on 6 January when his neighbour’s daughter rushed in the door.

Angus Galbraith

Angus’s neighbour and long time friend had just collapsed and her daughter was summoning his assistance whilst simultaneously calling an ambulance.

Angus rushed next door and found the 53-year-old on the bed and cyanotic from a lack of oxygen in the blood. He immediately put the woman on the floor and started CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation). She had suffered cardiac arrest.

It was only a couple of minutes before Angus’s colleagues in the first ambulance crew were on scene and three shocks from the defibrillator were administered before she was whisked to hospital, which was a stone’s throw away.

Luckily a visiting professor was on hand to assist with the assessment and she was taken to Aberdeen by the SAS retrieval time.

By the time the family was down to make a visit she was conscious. She is now making a good recovery.

Angus said that it had been an incident where everything had gone right – early CPR, early defibrillation and early removal to hospital.

Since then, he said, he has used the case as a teaching aid. He said that simplified procedures in such cases enabled more people to get involved in CPR.

Ten years ago, the guidelines had been to establish whether or not the patient had a pulse before commencing CPR and to pause to give emergency breaths whilst administering compressions. This tended to overwhelm many people in emergency situations.

Now, the procedure is to commence CPR compressions as soon as a patient seems to be having difficulty breathing; a simplified approach that should enable those with basic training to administer potentially life-saving CPR without hesitation.

“Hopefully this will be a bit of a driver to encourage community based CPR as well,” said Angus, who added that he was a “little bit taken aback” when the letter came through the door telling him had won an award. He had been nominated by his co-team leader Chris Rice.

Angus said that while he may not agree with all of the first minister’s politics, she was a lovely person to meet and a superb professional throughout the ceremony.

Jamie Manson, meanwhile, had been walking home from a Delting Up Helly Aa squad meeting late at night in February 2018 when he heard a faint “help, help”, coming from the direction of the Brae marina.

Jamie Manson

On investigating, Jamie saw the reflection of a hi-viz jacket in the water and ran down to the marina to see what was going on.

With difficulty, he managed to haul a large, elderly man onto the pontoon, pulling muscles in his back in the process.

The man had fallen between the pontoon and his boat and was clearly hypothermic. Jamie called a pal, Duncan Stove, to bring blankets and summoned the emergency services.

Jamie said that the CCTV showed the man had been in the freezing cold sea for 16 or 17 minutes and he did not think he could have lasted another five minutes. He was in a “very disoriented state” and was possibly fitting.

The two men managed to get his wet clothes off and wrapped him in blankets before the ambulance arrived, between 20 and 35 minutes after the 999 call was made, reckoned Jamie.

“I was quite surprised to be nominated and more surprised when I learned I had got the award,” said the 39-year-old ex-fireman. He had been nominated by the Brae police.