A pioneering project has been rolled-out across the north-east with the hope of saving 50 lives every year.
The Sandpiper Trust’s Wildcat campaign handed out 50 new defibrillator bags to volunteer responders at an event in Inverurie last night after raising £850,000 of funds over the last two years and increasing the total number of these kits to 200.
The trust was started in 2002 by Penny Dickson and her sister Claire Maitland following a family tragedy – the aim was to provide emergency first aid kits to medics working in Scotland’s rural communities.
Since then the charity has issued 910 sandpiper bags across Scotland containing uniform medical equipment and has been endorsed by the Scottish Ambulance Service.
The Wildcat campaign is now extending the service to include cardiac arrest emergencies. The new volunteers come from 50 areas across Aberdeenshire and Moray and hope to fill the “hot-spots” where currently no first-responder cover exists.
Wildcat project leader, Keri Fickling is a paramedic and explained that for every minute someone is in cardiac arrest – their chance of survival decreases by 10%. She said: “Our initiative is a first of its kind in the world. We have chosen our locations based on historic cardiac arrest data.
“When a 999 call is made, an ambulance is sent out, but a first responder call also goes out. Our bags all have tracking devices fitted, so the call centre can see straight away where the nearest responder is and direct them to the patient.”
One volunteer from the launch knows only too well what this life-saving service can mean. Keith Cruikshank’s life was saved by a quick-thinking neighbour who performed CPR until the ambulance crew arrived with a defibrillator – Keri Fickling was the paramedic on call. Now, Keith has been trained as a first responder without having any previous medical experience.
Claire Maitland, MBE and Sandpiper Trustee addressed the volunteers and said: “I cannot tell you how it feels for my sister and I to see you all picking up your kits.
“It has been a very long journey and we are extremely grateful to all of our fundraisers – it’s just fantastic.
“When we started out, we said – if we can just save one life – it would be worth it.”
The Sandpiper Trust now covers 48 of the 50 areas in Grampian, but still has no responders in either Boddam or Cullen.
If you would like to volunteer to become and Wildcat responder, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.