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Community / Multi-agency approach to emergencies praised

Community safety and resilience board chairman councillor Alastair Cooper said it is ‘laudable that we as a community can work so well together’

Fire chief Matt Mason and chairman of the islands' safety and resilience board Alastair Cooper.

THE JOINED-UP way the emergency services work in Shetland was praised at a meeting of the local community safety and reliance board this week.

A number of examples were highlighted involving partners like the fire, ambulance and police service, as well as the coastguard and RNLI.

At Wednesday’s meeting the role fire fighters from Sullom Voe Terminal played in the recent Moorfield Hotel fire in Brae was praised.

The board heard that the crew from the terminal effectively attended the fire in their own time after their shift had ended.

They provided kit, which has now been donated to the fire service, to help with water supply.

Local fire chief Matt Mason said the Sullom Voe crew was “highly professional” and said their support was “second to none”.

The fire and ambulance service has been working from the same station in Lerwick since 2018 and this has also boosted the multi-agency approach to emergencies.

The ambulance’s divisional head of services Andy Fuller said there has been a “huge benefit” in sharing the premises, with crews able to communicate and collaborate more easily.

Mason added that working with young people has also been an important piece of collaboration.

A local police plan for 2020-23 presented at the meeting also highlighted the joined-up approach in Shetland.

“Effective policing within our diverse environments can be challenging, however, our supportive collaborations with partners both within the community planning arena and the wider community are a huge asset in overcoming challenges,” it said.

Council leader Steven Coutts said it was “really positive” to see Shetland’s wide ranging partnership plan also mentioned in the police report.

The plan was introduced in 2018 and it brings together a host of partners and community bodies to deliver “collective ambitions” for the future.

Errol Smith from the coastguard, meanwhile, highlighted that some of the agency’s recent activity has been around supporting patient transfers for the ambulance service.

Michael Avril from the RNLI also gave mention to a recent cliff incident in Lerwick which saw the lifeboat assist the coastguard’s rescue volunteers and helicopter, as well as other emergency services.

Community safety officer at Shetland Islands Council Louise Robertson was also given the go-ahead to undertake a mapping exercise of Shetland’s agencies, groups and partnerships in view of developing a “community safety narrative” for the isles.

Shetland Islands Council convener Malcolm Bell said in relation to the fire service that there had been a “number of high profile incidents in the past 18 months”.

He said it was worth recording thanks to the fire service and all emergency services.

“We are fortunate to live in a community with this level of service,” Bell said.

Board chairman councillor Alastair Cooper said the joined-up approach to emergency response is a strength not always seen in other parts of the country.

“It’s laudable that we as a community can work so well together,” he said.