Residents’ Vow On Ambulance Cover

The people of Braemar have told the Scottish Ambulance Service they will not accept any withdrawal of paramedics from the village. BBC Scotland revealed the possible closure of the depot, ahead of a public meeting with ambulance officials.

Speaking at the evening meeting, local people expressed concern about possibly closing the Braemar station in favour of keeping crews at Ballater. The Scottish Ambulance Service said it would continue to look at the options.

The closure is one option being considered by the ambulance service, which said its building in the village is badly damaged and needs repairs costing thousands of pounds. Another is to share with the local fire station.

The service is looking at a proposal to merge shift rotas in the Braemar, Ballater and Aboyne areas. If this goes ahead, it would possibly mean the closure of the Braemar facility.

This is part of a national drive to eliminate on-call working, meaning more staff covering the area in the hope of improved response times, even if ambulances have to come from further away.

About 30 people attended the meeting, with one describing the closure plan as “disgraceful” and “silly”. Community council chairman John Macpherson said there was sympathy for the ambulance service’s motives, but not for any plan that would remove the Braemar station.

He told BBC Scotland: “I think everybody understood they are trying to get rid of the on-call part of the services. An option is to move it to Ballater and it’s fair to say we were not convinced that was a good move.”

Paramedics in Braemar serve the local ski centre and mountain rescue team. They are currently operating out of the Fife Arms Hotel in the village. The three-man team works with both the Glenshee Ski Centre and the local mountain rescue team. They are not able to use their own station because of a major water leak.