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Calls for joint emergency service control room for Shetland

Tavish Scott MSP
Tavish Scott MSP

The Scottish Government has been urged to consider a joint emergency service control room covering all Shetland’s blue light services.

Local MSP Tavish Scott made the call after several mistakes where emergency services were either not sent from the closest base or ended up going to the wrong location.

He flagged up one example where an air ambulance was sent to Shetland instead of Orkney.

He said: “Emergency crews across all our vital services are stretched enough without the additional pressure of having to check whether the centralised control rooms have made a mistake – and mistakes happen.

“A control room based in the islands could reduce this pressure.

“It would bring all Shetland’s blue light emergency services under one roof in responding to any incident on land or at sea. That would be a new and better approach for the islands.”

Meanwhile, Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain, a Conservative, pointed to two examples where firefighters were not sent from the closest depot.

Mr Mountain said: “Concerns have been raised over various call outs including a crew from Lairg being called out to attend an incident in Skye, a two-hour journey and over 100 miles away.

“Also, a Raasay crew were called to a road traffic collision on Skye, as they were deemed to be the closest station.

“It took the crew to inform the Dundee control room they weren’t indeed the closest and a tender from Kyle was then called.

“I did highlight to the Scottish Government that surely these incidents only serve to strengthen the position that there should be a control room in Inverness which would have the in depth local geographical knowledge, which in such circumstances is invaluable.”

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said the emergency services would keep an open mind on the mergers.

He said: “The geographical location of the contact centre is not the key issue – it is the knowledge of the staff and the tools and equipment that they have in that particular facility that are important in making sure that resources are deployed to the appropriate area.

“I have no doubt those organisations will continue to look at what further improvements can be made to the way in which the contact centres and the operational control centres are working.”

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said: “The public can rest assured we continue to attend at every emergency.

“Any firefighter or member of operational control staff will know local knowledge is derived not only from our operations control but from the highly experienced local crews based across the north.”

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