People living in Lewis can expect an ambulance or first responder in an average time of 11 minutes and seven seconds if they are taken suddenly ill, according to a BBC investigation published today (Wednesday March 6th)

The report says critically-ill patients are ‘at risk’ because of the time it takes for ambulances to reach those who live in rural areas. A response should come in six to eight minutes, with people who have a cardiac arrest especially vulnerable to delays.

But the figures for the HS2 postcode are not directly comparable to those across the UK, because of the low number of call-outs – less than nine ‘high-category’ calls in the period between January and October 2018.

The BBC investigation used data from ambulance trusts to establish how long, on average, an ambulance took to reach a high-priority patient – which could include someone suffering cardiac arrest, seizures, major blood loss or struggling to breathe.

Rural areas across the UK averaged a response time of 11 minutes and 13 seconds, while in urban areas the average time between call-out and attendance was seven minutes 13 seconds.

Stornoway ambulance station is the primary base for paramedics and ambulance crews in Lewis, although there are crews and ambulances on standby in Barvas and in Tarbert.

There has also been widespread support for community initiatives to support medical emergencies, with community-based First Responder crews active in Carloway, Ness, Shader Barvas, Shawbost, Uig and Tarbert (serving the whole of Harris).  In addition, the Western Isles has the strongest distribution of publically-accessible AEDs, or defibrillators, of anywhere in Scotland, with 126 installed between the Butt and Barra, including one in every school in the Western Isles.

The full BBC report is available at