Two ambulance crew members spent two hours digging snow, pushing cars and directing traffic this morning in an effort to get the A96 moving through the snow – at the end of a 12-hour nightshift.
Callum Wright, an ambulance technician who works in Huntly, and Dan Marsh, a Dufftown paramedic, were on their way home separately when they encountered traffic at a standstill on the north-east road.
Both knew how dire the weather conditions were after being called out the night before.
Callum, who was giving a nurse from the Jubilee Hospital a lift home to Keith, got out his car to see what the issue was.
He said: “Not knowing if it was stuck vehicles or an RTC, I said to the nurse I’m going to go up and have a look and see if there’s anything I could do, make sure it’s not an RTC.
“The snow was – I don’t want to embellish it – but it was really blowing, quite fast, and I saw a delivery van stuck sideways across the road.
“There was a gentleman there who had a shovel, wasn’t really gaining any ground, so I went up and explained I’d give him a hand.”
‘Main aim was to get to our bed’
Dan had spotted the van too, and also volunteered to help. It was the first time he had met Callum.
He said: “The COTAG [Grampian 4×4 response squad] guy came later, and all of us worked together to get the road clear.
“Our main aim was just to get to our bed, that was our end goal! We’d been out all night, so we were quite tired.
“I don’t mind, it’s just helping people and reassuring people.”
Ex-military Callum helped co-ordinate the logistics of moving some cars out the way to allow the snowplough and tractors past, and he and Dan pushed several vehicles free.
Dan added they were grateful for the help from COTAG and the farmers who used their machinery to get the road as clear as possible.
Getting back to his car at 9am, Callum watched a lorry in front slide and get stuck, so got out and helped the newly arrived police to get it moving again.
He said: “I told the police, I’ve got a nurse in the van and I’d like to get her home if anything.
“I’m more than happy to come back once I get home and change, because at this point I was absolutely soaking and freezing.
“They just said no, we’ll take over, go home and get some sleep.”
Putting in the effort
He did, and managed to rest in time to watch the rugby. While Callum has tonight off, Dan will be working again from 6.30pm this evening.
Dan said: “I got home at about 9.30am, when the night shift was half six to half six. I did manage to sleep, slept like a baby.”
Callum said, despite their efforts this morning, he was surprised to see how many people decided to stay in their cars without coming to lend a hand.
He said: “The ambulance service is under a massive strain as it is, and we’re trying our best.
“I get that 99% of people on the road just now need to be on the road, and that’s totally understandable.
“But if you are going to be on the road, be prepared – have warm clothing, have blankets, and if you do see someone stuck, put yourself in their shoes.
“I’m sure you’d want someone to come out and give you a wee push.”