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Friday, 23 November 2012

It's not easy to make out, but the photo shows a rescue helicopter airlifting a patient to the mainland from the village football field, as sometimes happens.

We’re Prepared.

Island life. There’s a lot of gossiping. It travels faster than Facebook, and, like Facebook, the truth of the tale can be lost in the telling and then there’s bother! But helping your neighbours out when they’re in trouble goes without saying. You don’t throw anything away because where’s it going to go? And when you go shopping you get plenty in, in case the ferry doesn’t sail for a few days.

On an island like Arran, with a permanent population of less than 5,000, you are a big fish in a small pond. It’s a long way from the rest of our overcrowded world in which we can feel like very small anonymous fish indeed. This situation translates into an island lifestyle which demands that everyone has to get stuck in to make island life work. The last thing island life is, is a retreat.

Cue First Responders.

Last year Nigel and I joined the team of First Responder volunteers covering the North End of Arran. First Responders are people trained in the use of a defibrillator, which can shock start someone’s heart, and also in giving oxygen. Once or twice a week for a 24 hour period at a time, as a First Responder you are in charge of a bag containing the defib, the oxygen canister, masks, airways and first aid equipment. You agree to be at home and available to drop everything on receiving a call from ambulance control. You need to have use of a car. Every minute counts in surviving a heart attack and, as the only hospital on Arran is at Lamlash, 45 minutes away from Lochranza, First Responders can give vital help to someone suffering breathing difficulties until the ambulance arrives.

The fire service, the coastguard service and the mountain rescue team on Arran are all made up of committed volunteers who also have day jobs and businesses. Two of our friends, as well as working, belong to the Fire Service, the Coastguards and First Responders. They are self-employed so a lot of call-outs can have an impact on their businesses, but without the likes of them, island life would become unsustainable.

Island life. You join in.