Death of care home worker sparks calls for more ambulance service in highland village

The death of a local woman after a heart attack has sparked calls for increased ambulance coverage in a village in the Cairngorms.

Pam Anderson died in September.
Pam Anderson died in September.

Pam Anderson, 74, died from cardiac arrest on September 24 in an ambulance on the way to hospital from her home in Braemar.

In the wake of her death, the care home manager’s grieving family have launched a campaign for more ambulance services in the area.

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The village ambulance was withdrawn in 2007, and since then the nearest vehicle has been based 17 miles away in Ballatar.

Pam Anderson was a care home manager.

The first crew to arrive on the scene of Ms Anderson’s cardiac arrest was a one-man team, meaning she could not be transported to hospital.

The ambulance worker had to wait for a two-man team to arrive from Tomintoul, 32 miles away.

“My Mum was well-liked in the village and would do anything for anybody. Her death has brought home to us what a precarious situation we are in in this outlying community,” said daughter Sarah Christie.

The family praised the ambulance workers for doing everything they could, but said they were working with too few resources.

“We have no complaints with them but there have been a few near-misses in the village over the years,” said widower Douglas Anderson.

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"This is perhaps a sign for local and national government that we need a better service for Braemar for the future.”

Ms Christie added: “We don’t know if it could have changed the outcome for mum but maybe if we get the right resources it could for someone else.”

Local GP, Donald Cruickshank, who was called to help, said, ”A single-man crew can’t transport a patient to hospital. We are an hour and a half from Aberdeen, if we have to wait for a double-crew that can be critical.

“We were given an assurance when our ambulance was taken away all those years ago that there wouldn’t be a single-man crew attending to emergency calls but there have been several instances where this has happened.”

Alexander Burnett, Conservative MSP for Aberdeenshire West said the removal of the village ambulance left a “hole” in Braemar.

“Mrs Anderson’s family have selflessly highlighted a serious injustice that dates back more than a decade. It must be incredibly painful for them to do so,” he said.

“Paramedics do an excellent job, but they are all too often hampered by how far they have to come, and how few of them there now are. Health is just one area in which north east communities feel short-changed by the SNP over the last 13 years.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: "We would like to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the family following the tragic passing of Mrs Anderson,” adding that the service has been in touch with the family and arranged a meeting.

"The Braemar area is served by ambulance stations in Ballater, Tomintoul, Alford and Banchory,” they said.

" While these are the stations which are geographically the closest, the ambulance service will always dispatch the closest, most appropriate response.

“The service have a wide range of resources which can be deployed depending on the nature of the incident and the condition of the patient, such as ambulances, paramedic response units, air ambulances, advanced practitioners and community first responders."

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