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Family Demands Ambulance Probe After Woman's Death

The family of a woman who died after a heart attack demanded an inquiry today after it emerged an ambulance technician nearby ``chose'' not to attend the emergency call because he was on a break.

Mandy Mathieson, 33, died after she had a cardiac arrest in Tomintoul, Moray, last month.

The local on-duty technician did not respond to the call on October 16 and paramedics from Grantown-on-Spey, around 15 miles away, were dispatched instead.

The Scottish Ambulance Service said an ambulance technician had been suspended and an investigation was under way.

Miss Mathieson's brother Charles Mathieson, 40, a firefighter for 20 years, said the family had been ``let down''.

He said: ``It's just disbelief that this could happen. It's a small village. The ambulance was based in the village.

``The timescale meant that instead of two minutes, they had to wait for 21 minutes for an ambulance.

``The family feel as though there are two issues to this: the technician was called and he refused, which is one of the issues.

``The second issue is that they can apparently opt in and opt out of whether they are called during breaks. To me, as an emergency service, yes, you are entitled to breaks. However, if a call comes in, you get your break at another point. That's the nature of the job.

``The likelihood of any change of outcome for Mandy was slim. However, the paramedic did not know that they could not help at the time.

``We don't think it would have made a difference in this case but in the future it could make a difference, not just here but across Scotland.

``The ambulance service needs to look at how their staff are managed during break times.

``The family campaigned for an ambulance to be based in the village and at a time of need, when it was called, it let us down.''

Mr Mathieson said his sister worked for the Cairngorms National Park Authority for more than six years as a finance technician.

He said: ``She will always be remembered as amazing Mandy by the family.

``Her partner Bobby Taylor is still distraught. He is totally devastated. That is his soulmate gone. No one can believe this could happen.''

Miss Mathieson's uncle, Charlie Skene, told the Press and Journal newspaper: ``My father fought for years for a full-time service for Tomintoul. We're disgusted that the service has come to this.

``We've just been so badly let down. You're supposed to be working to preserve someone's life.''

Mr Skene has written to Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon to lodge a complaint.

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: ``The ambulance technician on duty in Tomintoul was on a rest break and chose not to respond.

``An ambulance crew was dispatched from Grantown-on-Spey and arrived on scene within 21 minutes, followed by an air ambulance helicopter eight minutes later.

``Unfortunately, the patient did not survive the cardiac arrest and our thoughts are with her family at this difficult time.''

The spokesman added: ``The Scottish Ambulance Service has asked the Health Professions Council to consider the ambulance technician's decision-making and has suspended the individual whilst this consideration takes place.''

Around 450 people attended a celebration of Miss Mathieson's life at the Lecht Ski Centre near Cock Bridge, more than three miles to the south of Tomintoul.



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