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Intoxicated patients, stacked ambulances and staying late: Aberdeen paramedics star in BBC Show

A camera crew followed Rachel Brown and Scott Burnett on their shift.

Aberdeen crew appear on Paramedics on Scene. Image: BBC Scotland.
Aberdeen crew appear on Paramedics on Scene. Image: BBC Scotland.

An Aberdeen ambulance crew has given an inside look into life on the front line.

The crew appeared on BBC Scotland’s Paramedics on Scene, which aired last night.

The episode saw ambulance crews based in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Islay attending to different incidents across the country.

Aberdeen crew Rachel Brown, Technician, and Scott Burnett, Paramedic Team Leader took the cameras along with them, shining light on the everyday pressures the ambulance service is facing.

Scott Burnett and Rachel Brown both appeared on the show. Image: BBC Scotland.

Crew’s first patient suffered broken heart syndrome

The crew were first tasked to look for a 53-year-old male who had been experiencing chest pains since the early hours of the morning.

When Scott and Rachel got to their patient, named Ronnie, they assessed him by performing some tests, including an ECG and took turns trying to ease his nerves.

They were called to assist a 53-year-old man with chest pains. Image: BBC Scotland.

Ronnie revealed to the crew that his mother had recently passed away in his arms due to a heart attack.

Rachel said: “He was a little bit distressed but we just de-escalated the situation.”

Ronnie then spent 10 days in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and doctors suspect he had takotsubo cardiomyopathy – broken heart syndrome.

Ronnie being taken care of by Scott and Rachel. Image: BBC Scotland.

‘Everybody is here for the right reasons’

During the show, Scott shared how Aberdeen is a “great” station to work out of.

Adding: “Everybody is here for the right reasons to help people and try to make a difference in people’s lives.”

The pair did however, touch on some of the pressures paramedics are facing.

They are experiencing pressures as ambulances are being forced to stack up outside A&E. Image: BBC Scotland.

One being the impact of ambulances “stuck” outside A&E waiting to hand over patients.

Just last month, the P&J reported that as many as 18 ambulances were stationed outside the city’s flagship hospital one afternoon, as ambulance crews waited to hand over patients.

18 ambulances stacked outside A&E one day last month

A source previously told The Press and Journal: “The issue is that there are too many people going to the hospital, and it doesn’t have enough beds.

“I don’t want to scare members of the public, but the reality is, there’s a significant lack of exposure to emergency calls.”

Ambulances parked outside Aberdeen Royal Infirmary's accident and emergency ward.
Ambulances ‘stacked’ outside Aberdeen Royal Infirmary on February 26

Scott Burnett added: “When we’re sitting stacking that’s us stuck at the hospital for however long it takes for us to get into the department.

“It’s having massive knock on effects on our community, our responders times. It’s a massive pressure on the service.”

Just after 9pm, the pair were then called to attend an incident where a man had fallen over because he was intoxicated.

Aberdeen paramedics face ‘massive pressure’

Scott shared: “Alcohol is a big thing in our society, most people can control it, some people can’t and that’s when they can potentially end up in the back of an ambulance, whether that’s from a fall, an assault or just too much alcohol.”

Whilst dealing with their patient, the crew received a call that another man had fallen over close by.

Rachel and Scott then split up to tackle both patients.

The pair had to work overtime. Image: BBC Scotland.

She added: “Sometimes we’re turning up to the worst day of their lives and we’re there to look after them and to try and make a difference.”

While Scott added: “It’s a case of being in the right place at the right time or the wrong place at the wrong time, depending on the category of the job.”

With just half an hour until their shift was due to finish, the pair received a call to help yet another man who had fallen over in a pub while being intoxicated.

So far, it had been a busy night in Aberdeen for Scott and Rachel, who had dealt with two heavily intoxicated patients already.

According to recent figures, Scotland’s paramedics respond to alcohol related calls on average once every six minutes.

Rachel and Scott at the scene. Image: <a href="">BBC</a> Scotland.

Despite being intoxicated the patient appeared to be physically fit. So, the crew attempted to contact friends and family to collect him.

As they asked police to help them find an address for the patient, they were then stuck in what Scott described as a “grey area between the police and ambulance.”

He added: “That was one of the biggest issues we had that night, I think the police thought we were going to try and pass this guy onto them when we didn’t want that at all.”

“It was a relief when the police did arrive, we’d obviously been waiting for some amount of time for their assistance and I think things escalated due to the time we were waiting.”

‘Important to have a good relationship with your crew’

Scott went on to say: “It’s very important to have a good relationship with your crew mate and you have to know each other inside out so that if something happens, a job goes downhill, you know that you can rely on your colleague.

While Rachel added: “You need to have that connection, you need to have that bond and that working relationship that’s string enough to get on well enough to be there for one another.”

The pair spent two hours dealing with this patient, putting them an hour and a half over their scheduled finishing time.

Scott concluded: “Paramedics are a fall back for everything, not just paramedics but all ambulance staff.

“We’re the social workers, we’re the physiotherapists, we’re the GP’s, we’re the police sometimes.”