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Emergency services / Renewed call for local emergency control room

A SHETLAND councillor is calling for a local emergency services control centre to be created in the islands, a move that could ensure quicker and more accurate responses by the blue light services, he said.

Councillor Allison (Flea) Duncan’s campaign comes after an elderly lady who had suffered a broken pelvis last month had to wait for almost four hours for an ambulance to arrive after the initial call was redirected to Edinburgh.

Shetland south councillor Allison (Flea) Duncan. Photo: SIC

An ambulance was only sent after the family of the woman called the Gilbert Bain Hospital, in Lerwick, as well as 999 again inquiring how much longer they had to wait for ambulance to arrive.

It is not the first time that local politicians have been called for a local control room to be set up, fearing the loss of local knowledge could lead to potentially tragic mistakes.

This coincided with the closure of the Inverness-based control rooms for police as well as the fire and rescue services.

However, in April 2017 then Scottish justice minister Michael Matheson declined to look into the merits, insisting that the geographical location of the call centre was not the key issue.

Duncan said on Tuesday that it was high time that the idea of having police, ambulance, fire and coastguard services pooled in one local control room should be given proper consideration.

And he paid tribute to those who had raised the issue much earlier, namely former councillor Jonathan Wills as well as then MSP Tavish Scott, who had  “the foresight to see that there would be problems”.

“My regret is that I didn’t have the foresight to support Dr Wills at the time,” the Shetland South councillor said. “I didn’t see that, I accepted what was stated nationally.

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“But it is quite clear to me now that the current set-up is a disaster, and the sooner we get own control room here in Shetland the better.

“Unfortunately, something will have to happen before political leaders realise that the proper thing to do is to have our own.”

The councillor said he would “take every opportunity” to bring up the issue in the council chamber over coming months to hopefully “get the support of my fellow councillors”.

“And I certainly will bring it up with our Liberal Democrat member for Holyrood and our representative at Westminster,” Duncan said.

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