Injured man waits four hours for ambulance

An elderly man with a suspected broken hip was left waiting nearly four hours for an ambulance in icy conditions yesterday.

The chairman of the Shetland Community Safety and Resilience Board has said that the ambulance service has urgent explaining to do in light of the incident.

A 78-year-old man fell and was left lying on ice outside his house in Vidlin before the crew of a fire engine got him into his porch and fed him oxygen and tried to keep him warm.

First response was provided by the Brae fire crew which arrived just after 10.05am.

The 999 call was made at 8.30am but an hour passed before the ambulance service, which was unable to send a vehicle, summoned the help of the fire brigade.

The Brae fire crew members later called for extra help from the Sandwick fire brigade, which is understood to have the only spinal board in the Shetland fire service. The board is a simple device used for extracting patients with suspected spinal or leg injuries.

When the Sandwick appliance arrived just after midday, the man had already been taken into his porch by the Brae fire crew. The firemen also laid down grit to help the ambulance.

It was 12.20pm before one of the Lerwick-based ambulances turned up. A doctor also arrived on the scene but by that time the ambulance had departed for Lerwick with the patient.

NHS Shetland said this afternoon that the injured man was in the Gilbert Bain Hospital and was stable and doing well.

Safety board chairman Alastair Cooper, whose council constituency includes Vidlin, said today that he was shocked that one of his constituents had to wait so long for treatment.

He said it was “terrible” that the ambulance service had been unable to respond quicker and that the Yell ambulance could have taken the ferry and been there before the Lerwick one turned up.

Mr Cooper added: “As a community, we need to know from them as a service that this can be resolved and will never happen again. The community absolutely must be reassured by the ambulance service.”

The Scottish Ambulance Service was contacted by The Shetland Times this morning, but has not yet responded.


After this article was published, the ambulance service issued the following statement:

“We received a call at 9.22am on Sunday 13 December to respond to a patient in Vidlin who had fallen. One ambulance, normally on shift at 7am, was not available to respond as the crew had attended a number of calls throughout- the night during the on call period and were booked off fatigued.

“The other ambulance was dealing with calls at that time. Ambulance Control asked the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to respond and maintained contact with them to ensure that the patient was stable and comfortable. The second ambulance was dispatched when it became free, arrived on scene at 12.13pm and transferred the patient safely to hospital. Arrangements were made on Sunday morning to fly a paramedic to Shetland to provide additional support to local teams.”

• More in this week’s paper.


Add Your Comment
  • ian tinkler

    • December 14th, 2015 17:40

    Good old NHS after eight years of fully devolved SG/SNP control. What ever next!! Be in no doubt a 78 year old with a fracture is a serious life threatening emergency. He would also be in agony.

  • David Spence

    • December 14th, 2015 18:06

    I would certainly think some questions would need to be asked as to why the ambulance took so long to arrive at the scene before proper treatment (if any) could be applied.

    However, I have also noticed through tv publicity (namely the government controlled BBC) has been criticizing the NHS for everything it can accuse it off as a means, I think, to persuade the public the alternative, this being the private sector would be a better option. This is not taking into account the Tories privatizing the NHS via the backdoor……….despite Cameron saying ‘ The NHS would be safe in our hands ‘..what he did not mention was ‘ The NHS was safe in ‘ private hands ‘ and our hands (the Tories) as shareholders of the private companies ‘.

    I would suspect the gentleman in the above article, would probably have to stump up several hundred pounds before any ‘ private ambulance ‘ would even consider going to his rescue?

    • iantinkler

      • December 15th, 2015 10:49

      The gentleman in question has already stumped up many thousand of pounds in National Insurance!!! Believe it or not in wicked USA nobody is left without an ambulance under any circumstance whatsoever, nor for that matter in any country in Europe, apart from SNP Scotland!!!

      • David Spence

        • December 15th, 2015 20:31

        Ian, I was being sarcastic… a degree………but in reality, I think such circumstances where money comes first priority would be prevalent in a money orientated health care system……whether through insurance (and whether or not the insurance company would be prepared to pay for such a service……depending on what cover you over-payed them).

        In any civilized society, of course health care would be applicable to everybody……….but this is where there are major differences, certainly within the States, in what form of health care you will get, and where the insurance company (if you are insured) dictates not only what treatment you get, but also what medication you will receive.

        It is also the insurance company that can decide whether you live or die, depending on what policy you have, and what pathetic excuse the insurance company can come up with to refuse you medical treatment or medication.

        A healthcare system 100% based on profit, greed and the dreaded shareholders who perpetuate such a system for selfish greed, and nothing else.

        It is the principle of profit and greed which determines the morality of such a healthcare system. Something endorsed, supported and condoned by the Tories.

  • iantinkler

    • December 15th, 2015 11:08

    NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts said the report demonstrated that the local health board provides high quality older peoples care. What a load of total bull. When was the dental care of the elderly even a consideration? Now regarding the ambulance Service, heaven help us . How these people love to praise their own performance, a tick the boxes inspection. little more. I suppose no one was left to starve, as on mainland Scotland. NHS under SNP, self praise in abundance. ( All Shetland NHS employees have to sign Press “gagging clauses” in their contracts, It would not do for them to actually tell it like it is)

  • Stuart Hannay

    • December 17th, 2015 13:32

    I see that a second ambulance was introduced in 2009. This seems to be as much about the number of trained staff available as the number of vehicles.

  • ian tinkler

    • December 17th, 2015 15:19

    Stuart, fear not, we are assured “NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts said the report demonstrated that the local health board provides high quality older peoples care.” That is if they manage to get you to hospital!!!


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