A call has gone out to Lanarkians to help fill gaps left in the town’s medical cover and potentially save the lives of fellow townsfolk.
Over the past few years, the Gazette has reported on a series of upheavals in local NHS services, including the move of out-of-hours GP cover to Hamilton, problems obtaining appontments at the Lanark Doctors practice and, most recently, the closure of the Lockhart Hospital to inpatients.
At around the time of the Lockhart’s closure a year ago, a group of volunteers called Lanark Community First Responders was set up in conjunction with the Scottish Amulance Service to try to provide initial emergency treatment for those who take suddenly ill until professional help arrives.
Much of that ad-hoc cover has, up until now, been provided by just one man – Richard Price, the responders’ co-ordinator – and he has become a familiar sight parked in his car in the town’s High Street at night waiting to be called into action to keep folk taken suddenly and seriously unwell alive until the nearest Scottish Ambulance Service crew gets to the scene.
Now, say Richard’s fellow responders, it is time for others to come forward to bolster his admirable efforts.
The opportunity to greatly expand the service has come, perhaps ironically, thanks to it being granted room in the Lockhart Hospital building to create its first proper base.
That will allow more volunteers to be recruited, trained and deployed and help the responders to apply for grants to allow such an expansion of their service to take place.
Explained a responders’ spokeswoman: “Basically, we are an organisation set up to offer assistance to the Scottish Ambulance Service by attending appropriate 999 calls within Lanark.
“There are circumstances when the Scottish Ambulance Service cannot attend to emergency calls as quickly as it would like and with the training provided through Richard, the ambulance service community first responders’ co-ordinator, volunteers are able to provide basic life support until an ambulance crew arrives.
“At the moment, we have just formed a management committee and are in the process of applying for funding for much-needed equipment.
“We are appealing for volunteers to come on board and help deliver a much-needed service.”
Those willing to become a responder, be it on the front line or in a support role, should phone 07554 339557.