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Family visit charity ambulance team who saved baby James following traumatic dog attack

A three-month-old boy has been reunited with the Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) team that saved his life after he was mauled by a dog.

Baby James and his parents Morven and Derek Davidson travelled to the SCAA base at Perth Airport yesterday to meet paramedic Darren O’Brien and the pilot, Captain Shaun Rose.

On December 1, James was attacked by one of the family’s dogs in their home in rural Glen Esk.

The Patterdale terrier leapt into the baby’s pushchair, damaging James’ airway, puncturing an artery and nearly ripping an ear from his head.

Captain Rose, Mr O’Brien and fellow paramedic John Pritchard raced to the scene before flying the child to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) where he received life-saving treatment at the hospital’s major trauma centre within an hour of the attack.

Morven and Derek are in no doubt the speed of the air ambulance team’s response helped save their son’s life.

Derek said: “It is great to be able to meet and put a face to these guys and say thank you. We feel that they’re lifesavers. And we really believe the speed played a big part.”

Mr O’Brien said it had been clear James was “touch and go”.

“I never took my eyes off him throughout the entire flight,” he said.

“We couldn’t let him drift off to sleep and I was monitoring him every second in case he deteriorated and we had to intervene. It was a race against time.”

His pilot, meanwhile, said he could tell the seriousness of the injuries from the look in his colleague’s eyes.

The couple themselves say they didn’t realise the full extent of James’ injuries until after his operation at ARI.

Derek said: “The surgeon came out and said we almost lost him.”

Morven added: “The fact they were able to save his whole ear is because of how quickly they got to him.”

The baby spent 10 days in ARI, with his parents moving into the hospital beside him. So swift was his recovery, he was able to spend his first Christmas at home.

The SCAA team were thrilled to see the family walk through the doors at Perth Airport less than two months later.

Mr O’Brien said: “We have some really lousy days in this job when it doesn’t go our way so thanks to these guys for coming in – I’m chuffed to bits, I really am.”

Captain Rose added: “It was fantastic to see them. We don’t get many people who do come back.”

The parents are now holding a fundraiser for SCAA and have been taken aback by the amount of people donating gifts to the cause, with some coming from as far afield as Germany.

Derek said: “Because of where we live, in the middle of nowhere, everyone we know is liable to need the air ambulance.”

Three-month-old baby James Davidson from Glen Esk in Angus who had been savaged by a family dog pictured on a visit to Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance to say thank you to the crew who helped to save his life. Pictured from left, Morven Davidson (Mum), Paramedic Darren O’Brien holding baby James, Pilot Captain Shaun Rose and Derek Davidson (Dad). Picture by Graeme Hart

The fundraiser will be held in Tarfside Community Hall on February 8, at 7pm.

A three-month-old boy has been reunited with the Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) team that saved his life after he was mauled by a dog.

Baby James and his parents Morven and Derek Davidson travelled to the SCAA base at Perth Airport yesterday to meet paramedic Darren O’Brien and pilot Captain Shaun Rose.

On December 1, James was attacked by one of the family’s dogs in their home in rural Glen Esk.

The animal leapt into the baby’s pushchair, damaging James’ airway, puncturing an artery and nearly ripping an ear from his head.

The dog has since been destroyed.

Captain Rose, Mr O’Brien and fellow paramedic John Pritchard raced to the scene before flying the child to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) for treatment at the hospital’s major trauma centre.

Morven and Derek are in no doubt the speed of the air ambulance team’s response helped save their son’s life.

Derek said: “It is great to be able to meet and put a face to these guys and say thank you.

“We feel that they’re lifesavers. And we really believe the speed played a big part.”

Mr O’Brien said it had been clear James was “touch and go”.

“I never took my eyes off him throughout the entire flight,” he said.

“We couldn’t let him drift off to sleep and I was monitoring him every second in case he deteriorated and we had to intervene. It really was a race against time.”

The couple say they didn’t realise the full extent of James’ injuries until after his operation at ARI.

Derek said: “The surgeon came out and said we almost lost him,” while Morven added: “With the airway I’m not sure how much you can do but his ear was a big thing for us.

“The fact they were able to save his whole ear is because of how quickly they got to him.”

The baby spent 10 days in ARI, with his parents moving into the hospital beside him.

The SCAA team were thrilled to see the family walk through the doors at Perth Airport less than two months later, with James having made a full recovery.

Mr O’Brien said: “We have some really lousy days in this job when it doesn’t go our way so thanks to these guys for coming in.

“I’m chuffed to bits, I really am.”

Captain Rose added: “It was fantastic to see them. We don’t get many people who do come back.”

The parents are now holding a fundraiser for SCAA and have been taken aback by the amount of people donating gifts to the cause, with some coming from as far afield as Germany.

Derek said: “Because of where we live, in the middle of nowhere, everyone we know is liable to need the air ambulance.”

The fundraiser will be held at Tarfside Community Hall on February 8, at 7pm.


Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance has made a huge impact since 2013, saving lives and preventing suffering. 

That is why the P&J campaigned successfully for SCAA’s second helicopter to be based in our region. 

The countdown is now on for the aircraft – call sign Helimed 79 – to start flying missions from Aberdeen Airport. 

But this is an emergency service that relies entirely on donations. 

Each call-out costs about £2,500 and SCAA needs P&J readers to help hit its £6million target and get things off to a successful start. 

So please do anything you can to raise those funds and show that We’re Backing Helimed 79. 


Ways to donate to SCAA

  • Website: www.scaa.org.uk/donate
  • Text: Text ‘SCAA’ and the amount to 70085
  • Phone: 03001231111
  • Cheques: Made payable to ‘SCAA’ or ‘Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance’ and sent to: Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA), The Control Tower, Perth Airport, Scone, PH2 6PL

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