Local medical practitioners have joined in the chorus of support for the campaign to Save St Abbs Lifeboat.
GPs at the Eyemouth practice wrote on their website this week about the unique problems facing casualties and those who rescue them in the Berwickshire area.
Writing about the so-called ‘golden hour’ after an accident, when it is recognised that early, definitive medical treatment will prevent death and improve the casualty’s chance of survival, they said: “Any withdrawal or reduction in local service provision that is likely to result in further delays in the delivery of medical care to those who become unwell or suffer accidents in our area is not in the best interest of our community.
“Every minute counts. Policy makers should be mindful of the fact that St Abbs is a 40 mile journey to Borders General Hospital or a 46 mile journey to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary – this consumes the majority of any casualty’s ‘golden hour’.”
Dr Alan Mason has been the local RNLI Lifeboat doctor for over 30 years. At the end of July he wrote to the RNLI urging the charity to reconsider closing the St Abbs station on September 8.
He wrote: “I am really concerned about the loss of the St Abbs inshore lifeboat, as I have real fear that lives will be unnecessarily lost.
“St Abbs is a very popular diving area, with numbers of divers increasing each year. The coastline is rugged and rocky, making it very difficult for Trent class lifeboats to access casualties. A local inshore lifeboat is therefore essential.
“As you know, rapid response time is crucial when survival of casualties is considered. There will be a smaller (probably unsuitable, possibly even dangerous) D Class Inshore lifeboat available three miles away at Eyemouth. On a good day, this may reach the diving areas near St Abbs within 20 minutes - much longer if sea conditions are poor (surely exactly the time when casualties are more likely).”
He went on: “A few weeks ago, the St Abbs lifeboat launched and reached a casualty within five minutes and a life was saved that would have been lost had it taken any longer.
“Unfortunately, in this area, we cannot expect rapid response from other emergency services. Ambulance paramedics will often take 20 to 40 minutes to arrive, and helicopters will have to come from Prestwick about 100 miles away!”
Campaign organisers thanked their supporters this week after the petition to keep an RNLI presence in St Abbs passed 10,000 signatures.
They wrote: “Well done everyone who signed online, signed the paper copies or got someone to sign who cares what happens to the station, absolutely fantastic effort. 5,429 online plus 4,650 paper copies.... 10,079....that is some effort,great job.” Senior Helmsman David Wilson has also been presented with a very generous cheque for the campaign from Michael Deans of Tweedmouth Service Station Mitsubishi Motors, which the group is very grateful for.