AN ambulance had to be sent from Edinburgh to a fatal fire in Midlothian despite the local paramedic station being only 100 yards away.
Mary Mackie, 65, died from smoke inhalation in hospital after a blaze took hold at her home just after midday on Tuesday.
At the time, the Dalkeith ambulance station, which is round the corner from Mrs Mackie’s home, was unmanned as crews were dealing with other calls, so a vehicle had to be dispatched from Edinburgh.
It is not known if there was a delay as a result, but Midlothian MP David Hamilton said the case highlighted the need for more resources.
He also said the Midlothian crews were regularly called to deal with incidents outside the area. On this occasion one ambulance was on an urgent call in Prestonpans, East Lothian, while the other was responding to an emergency in Dalkeith.
“It is a tragedy that just along the road from an ambulance station, someone has lost their life,” he said.
He said the Scottish Ambulance Service should consider increasing the number of staff and ambulances in Dalkeith.
One ambulance worker, who didn’t want to be named, claimed the station was left with no vehicles for several hours every day.
“If a 999 call comes in after that, they might not get back to Dalkeith station all day,” he said. “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 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.”
The fatal fire broke out in the kitchen of Crawlees Cottages in Suttieslea Road, Newtongrange, and is thought to have been caused by an electrical appliance. Mrs Mackie 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.”