Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil has contacted the Scottish Ambulance Service seeking details of why First Responder teams are not being called to assist at as many local incidents as in the past.

First Responders are trained volunteers who are available to be dispatched by an ambulance control centre to attend calls in their local area and assist until the arrival of the Ambulance.

Mr MacNeil has been made aware that Carloway First Responders have received only one call to assist from the Scottish Ambulance Service in the last year. The team, who have been operating in the area for the last 10 years, had previously assisted with 40-50 incidents a year.

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Pauline Howie, CEO of Scottish Ambulance Service has responded to Mr MacNeil and acknowledged that changes made by the Scottish Ambulance Service has led to a decline in the number of incidents attended by First Responders but she stressed that they were actively developing a new model for the future.

Mr MacNeil said: “First Responders provide valuable medical assistance and reassurance to those in their local area who are waiting for the arrival of an ambulance.

“The teams are highly trained to respond to medical emergencies and are ready and waiting to assist. Their presence is expected by the local community and the teams have a very good relationship with local ambulance crews.

The problem is that the teams are not receiving calls from the Scottish Ambulance Service to attend incidents. I wrote to Pauline Howie, Chief Executive of Scottish Ambulance Service for an explanation as to why this situation has arisen.”

In response, Ms Howie said that the Scottish Ambulance Service recognises the dedication, motivation and value of First Responders as an asset to communities and that they wanted to work with schemes to maximise their contribution to the services provided.

A new Community First Responder model is being developed for the future which potentially includes an increased scope of practice.