It’s the high life for medic John

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An Arbroath paramedic is taking to the skies as the latest crew member of Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA).

John Salmond (42) started as a fully fledged crewman and air paramedic on January 5 after nearly 17 years as an ambulance paramedic in his home town of Arbroath.

It has been quite a career change for the former Arbroath High pupil who started his working life as an apprentice vehicle mechanic at the West Newgate Garage - but a basic first aid course 20 years ago changed everything.

John explained: “I did a first aid course with the British Red Cross and it was the first time I’d had any experience with medical things and this basic course kind of set this career path change in motion.

“Two years after that I got into the Ambulance Service and started working in Patient Transport Services which was transporting patients to Day Hospital in Dundee.

“During that time I did quite a bit of self study to get enough preparation for going into active paramedic service.”

He continued: “Opportunities like this are few and far between in the Ambulance Service. When I first started the air paramedics were mostly based in Glasgow and Inverness but as soon as the rumours of a charity-funded Helimed coming to Perth began I started working on my portfolio, with things such as the See and Treat service based in Forfar.”

Although John’s first attempt to get onto the air ambulance roster was unsuccessful, he persevered, even acting as a ‘medical passenger’ - an onboard medic who only deals with patients and has nothing to do with helping the pilot.

He said: “I had a lot of support from SCAA’s crew. The guys were great in involving me in their training and the occasional shift as a medical passenger. I think without that I would have been on the back burners. There were quite a lot of applicants, but going that wee bit further was very beneficial.

“Opportunities like this don’t come along very often and I feel pretty privileged to be in this position as there are only five paramedics on the roster at SCAA.”

John is looking forward to what promises to be a varied role. He said: “Because we’re covering the whole of Scotland, it increases the incidence of major trauma and serious injury we deal with. It’s not just dealing with major trauma though. We are ideally placed to respond to calls in remote and rural locations if a land ambulance would take hours to get into its operational area. It’s not just down to the severity of a case that prompts SCAA’s response, but also the operational and patient benefits as well.”