Woman dies as local ambulance base unmanned

Crews dashed from Edinburgh as the Dalkeith depot was unmanned

AN ambulance was sent on a 10 mile dash to a fatal fire – despite a local station being just 100 yards away.

Mary Mackie, 65 died on Tuesday afternoon after her cottage in the Midlothian village of Mayfield went up in flames.

But ambulances from the local depot in nearby Dalkeith were unable to attend as the paramedics were all on calls.

Instead medics were scrambled from Edinburgh, more than 10 miles away.

Mrs Mackie later died in hospital from smoke inhalation.

Midlothian MP David Hamilton said the case highlighted the need for more resources.

He said Midlothian crews were often called to emergencies further afield, and at the time Mrs Mackie’s cottage went on fire one Dalkeith crew had been called to Prestonpans in East Lothian while the other responded to an emergency in Dalkeith.

He said: It is a tragedy that just along the road from an ambulance station, someone has lost their life.”


He added that resources needed to be increased at the Dalkeith depot.

One ambulance worker, who didn’t want to be named, claimed the station was left unmanned for several hours every day.

He said: “If a 999 call comes in after that, they might not get back to Dalkeith station all day

“It’s even been known for an ambulance to come into Edinburgh from Fife to do a transfer and get held in Edinburgh all shift. The computer works on the ‘closest ambulance gets the job’.

The unmanned station was just yeards away

“The crews don’t mind going to an emergency but they don’t like going to a non-urgent job and leaving the area unmanned.

“We should have at least one ambulance at Dalkeith station at all times.”

Mrs Mackie was killed   when a fire took hold in the kitchen of her home at Crawlees Cottages.

She was rushed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary but died in hospital.

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: “Resources from Dalkeith were responding to a cardiac emergency in Dalkeith and an urgent call in Prestonpans, so an Edinburgh crew responded. While the ambulance was en route, two local members of staff, who were off duty at the time, responded and treated the patient, along with a paramedic duty manager from Dalkeith.

“Ambulance resources are managed dynamically so that if there is a period of high demand in any one area, other resources can be moved to ensure that there is always cover.

“Our sincere condolences go out to the patient’s family.”


  1. I think this is a non story.

    No matter how many ambulances you put at one location there will be times when that station is not manned as all the crews are dealing with other patients. It is not at all unusual for that to happen. Also it is not unusual for crews to travel a distance to all call, especially in rural areas where they may have to travel even further. I know that the same happens in the Fire Service as well – all fire crews being sent to a local fire and a second fire in the same area having to be responded to from a distance.

    This MP is using this misunderstanding as a political football to try to gain some local support I guess. He should do his homework.

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