Wildcat responders in the North-east return to help save lives

A lifesaving initiative that utilises volunteers to respond to out-of-hospital cardiac arrests has been relaunched in the North-east.

By Kevin McRoberts
Friday, 17th December 2021, 6:05 am
SAS Wildcat responders Ian Hendry and Jim Brand provide a quick response when someone suffers a cardiac arrest.
SAS Wildcat responders Ian Hendry and Jim Brand provide a quick response when someone suffers a cardiac arrest.

The Sandpiper Wildcat project first began in 2016, and after a successful four year project, halted prematurely by the Covid-19 pandemic, the initiative has now been re-established, led by the Community Resilience Department of the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS).

SAS Wildcat Cardiac Responders are volunteers from diverse backgrounds that devote their time to responding to emergency calls for cardiac arrests in remote locations across North-east.

The Wildcats are dispatched via the GoodSAM app – which alerts a responder if they are within a 10km radius of someone suffering a cardiac arrest. This allows the volunteer to quickly reach the patient in their community and then perform CPR, deploy an AED and provide support to the patient's family while an ambulance is on its way.

Lorna Donaldson, SAS’s Cardiac Responder Development Lead, has been providing volunteers with training and support to enable them to respond to emergency calls and help people in their local community. With nearly 100 wildcat volunteers now back responding, the initiative is going from strength-to-strength.

Lorna said: “With the launch of the GoodSAM app at the end of September, the first couple of months for our Wildcat Responders has been very positive. There are over 100 Automated External Defibrillators (AED) in the Grampian region which Wildcat volunteers can access as they provide an emergency response to out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.”

Jim Brand, who retired from the oil and gas industry in 2019, has volunteered as a Wildcat since the original project was launched. He has also been a volunteer Community First Responder with SAS since 2011.

Jim said: “I am very keen on bystander CPR and training in CPR for schools and community groups. Wildcat seemed to be such a fantastic idea to provide immediate Cardiac Arrest response throughout remote and rural locations.

“One of the most rewarding aspects in being a Wildcat responder is being able to help people and try your best at one of the lowest points in their lives. When a success is achieved, it is hugely rewarding.”

Wildcat Responder Ian Hendry also worked in the oil and gas industry, where he was involved in emergency response duties both onshore and offshore.

Having previously volunteered for the Wildcat project, he volunteered once more when the project was relaunched.

Ian said: “Providing the immediate care required for patients is vital should an out-of-hospital-cardiac arrest occur, and being able to arrive quickly and commence CPR is essential.

“Statistically, the outcome will not always be what we want and having experienced this many times, this prompt response gives some comfort to families and loved ones of the patient at what is very traumatic time for them.

“Upon arrival, the technicians and paramedics will assume the lead, and we’ll focus on supporting the family or loved ones, and that aspect is also very rewarding.”