Injured taxi driver praises fireman driving ambulance

A taxi driver who was rescued from the wreckage of his car following a serious early morning crash says he would not have survived the incident if firefighters had not driven him by ambulance to hospital (as revealed in Friday’s Shetland Times).

John Gold has spoken from his hospital bed after it emerged firefighters had been ordered not to drive ambulances back from emergencies for insurance reasons.

The 50-year-old, who previously served as a retained firefighter in Brae, suffered multiple injuries when a car heading in the opposite direction crashed head on into his taxi the night before the Voe Show in August.

John Gold recovering in the Gilbert Bain Hospital. Photo: Ryan Taylor

He suffered serious injuries to his right elbow, a fractured left wrist and fractures to his right knee and his back.

Mr Gold also endured a collapsed lung and various cuts and grazes.

The Brae resident has entered into the argument after the Scottish Fire and Rescue Services assistant chief officer, Lewis Ramsay, issued an edict demanding firefighters do not drive ambulances.

Recalling the incident, Mr Gold said: “I heard the ambulance man saying, ‘is there anyone who can drive the ambulance for us’, because he and the other paramedic had to stay there because there were another three casualties.

“Then he said, ‘it’s alright, one of the firefighters is coming, he’s going to drive it in’. To me, that was a godsend. I had all these injuries and a collapsed lung. I was the one who was going to die if they couldn’t do it.”

Last week it emerged that firefighters had often driven ambulances away from accident scenes, particularly in island communities. The practice was seen as a pragmatic move because it freed up ambulance crews to help casualties during the journey to hospital.

It came amid continued arguments that emergency services are being increasingly centralised. Tellingly, fire control staff – on the night of the crash – had to be told the road number when informed the incident had happened between Brae and Voe, said Mr Gold.

Mr Ramsay last week argued firefighters were given sufficient medical training to enable them to help in the back of ambulances, but they were forbidden from driving them.

Asked for his impressions on the fire service orders, Mr Gold said: “I thought it was just a lot of nonsense. It’s obviously coming from folk who don’t know how the islands work, with the emergency services. Everybody’s got to help out each other.”

For the full story, see Friday’s Shetland Times (6th October 2017 edition).



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