Single-manned ambulances are unsustainable, says Girvan Community Council

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After nearly a year of excuses and miscommunication, the Scottish Ambulance Ser­vice was finally represented at March’s meeting by service manager for South Ayrshire Eddie Goodwin and colleague Ron Lilly.

And the pair came under fire amid concerns that single-manning in South Carrick is far too commonplace.

Girvan and South Carrick councillor Alec Clark raised the issue with the Carrick Gazette in September, but it has been a regular agenda item at Girvan Community Council since before then.

At last week’s meeting Councillor Clark said: “We are not trying to undermine the fantastic work that you do, which we all appreciate. But this is not a perception in people’s minds; it does actually happen here.

“It is a happening that could probably be promptly dealt with in an urban area, but this is a difficult rural area.”

Community councillors Cathie Collins and Wilma Dunlop both recounted recent instances in which an emergency call was placed and a single-manned vehicle arrived, but Mr Goodwin maintained single-manned ambulances are not routinely deployed locally.

He told those present that, when the ambulance service at Girvan does not have a full staff complement, overtime is offered to Girvan colleagues, followed by Maybole.

“There is no rostered single-manned in South Ayrshire, I assure you,” he said.

My Lilly explained: “When we receive a call-out we are not looking for an ambulance with two people in it. We are looking for the nearest possible response.

“All emergency calls get the nearest possible response and then the next step is to support that ambulance with another crew” – a process he explained as “normal procedure”.

Mr Goodwin confirmed Girvan ambulance station is currently one staff member down, a paramedic having recently taken early retirement, and no deployment-ready replacement being available.

He said a suitable individual would be heading to Glasgow Caledonian University next month for the mandatory 10 weeks’ training, and is expected to be back in Girvan in July.

In response to enquiries made by Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley MSP Adam Ingram with regard to the single-manning of ambulances, Health Secretary Alex Neil said in September: “We are committed to ensuring that single crewing does not become a recurring theme and so that Mr Ingram’s constituents, and indeed people across the country, can have confidence that the Scottish Ambulance Service will provide a high quality and effective response when they are needed.”