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Highland emergency response team delighted as they are named emergency service of the year

By Gregor White

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Dr Catherine Brown and Stuart Abel represented the whole of the fantastic PICT trauma response team on the night. Picture: Callum Mackay
Dr Catherine Brown and Stuart Abel represented the whole of the fantastic PICT trauma response team on the night. Picture: Callum Mackay

Picking up the emergency services prize at the Highland Heroes awards was a welcome validation for the work they do emergency responders have said.

PICT (Prehospital Immediate Care and Trauma Team) were named winners of the closely fought category after what has been a challenging time for them.

As the Courier has previously reported the team – which attends the scenes of major trauma incidents, providing advanced care and extending the capabilities of the Scottish Ambulance Service – was facing a cut to the cover it could provide after NHS Highland failed to commit to continue providing funding in conjunction with the Scottish Ambulance Service and the national Scottish Trauma Network (STN).

With the service due to be cut from seven days a week to just four it has since received a stay of execution after health secretary Humza Yousaf confirmed funding would continue from STN to allow it to go on operating at its current level for at least the next six months.

Team members Dr Catherine Brown (36) and Stuart Abel (44) of the Scottish Ambulance Service steered clear of discussing funding issues after picking up the prize on behalf of the team, which consists of 26 hospital specialists and general practitioners, but said it was clear that the life-saving service was one which was clearly valued.

Dr Brown said: "It's wonderful to have been able to lift the trophy on behalf of the whole team, which serves the whole of the Highlands and especially for Dr Luke Regan, an emergency medicine consultant from Raigmore Hospital who is the man really behind it all.

"It's great to have this as a demonstration of the public's belief in what we do."

Mr Abel added: "The beauty of the PICT team is its diversity in terms of drawing in doctors, ambulance staff and all the rest. We can all bring our own skills to the job and learn from each other along the way."

Dr Brown agreed: "Of the 26 medics on the rota we all came into it in different ways and I know myself that I have been learning so much on the job, which can only be of benefit to the patients."

Another team member, Dr Ian Craighead, previously detailed PICT's work, after being told it had been nominated.

“The PICT team has saved lives and eased pain and distress of patients at Highland roadsides as well as in their own homes," he said.

“While we complement the skilled work of the paramedics, data shows that our presence enables more than 40 per cent of the people we treat to stay at home rather than be admitted to hospital. It’s an honour to be part of this team.”

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