A north-east volunteer for a major international humanitarian has been playing a vital role during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Calum Leitch, 19, from Inverurie started volunteering with the British Red Cross in 2017 after they helped his family when their home was badly flooded.
The teenager moved to ambulance support last May and has been so inspired by his volunteering that he wants to study to become a paramedic at Robert Gordon University.
Calum’s duties with the Red Cross include taking patients to and from hospital and he also completed training to deal with frontline ambulance support and is now transporting patients with Covid-19 to Aberdeen’s Royal Infirmary.
He has been doing two shifts a week, transporting on average four patients a day and is hoping
Calum said: “The main precautions we take are wearing the PPE and making sure the vehicle is cleaned down afterwards. The first time I took a Covid patient it was quite scary but it does feel safe now, knowing we have those protections in place.
“I was worried about how infectious the patient might be but we have all the right protections in place.
“You do feel for the families when we take their loved ones into the ambulance, and it affects you as well, but the Red Cross makes sure we get support to look after us as well.
“I get quite an interesting response at the moment, being quite young. I’ve often had people in the back of the ambulance ask me how old I am.
“It’s really rewarding to make sure that people get where they need to be. It’s really nice to know that people are getting home safe and settled when they do get home.
“The feedback from people has been really positive, especially when they find out you’re a volunteer. Some people think it is absolutely crazy to do 12-hour shifts and get paid nothing for it but it is such rewarding work to do.
“It’s so nice to know, because there’s times that the Red Cross have been the saving grace for getting somebody home. I’ve had people cry, because the Red Cross has been able to take them home. Those reactions are real and that’s been such a lovely thing to see.”
Calum said he is keen to go to university to train as a paramedic after deciding becoming a doctor was not for him.
He said:“I applied to do medicine, as I was leaving school. And the university that I got into wasn’t the one I wanted to go to. So, I took a gap year with the intention of reapplying for medicine. But the more that I volunteer with the Red Cross the more that I’ve come to the conclusion that I would actually be better suited as a paramedic rather than a doctor.
“I really enjoy the moving about, not being based in one place all the time. I really enjoy being out and about and not having that immediate support if something does go wrong. Because if you work in a hospital, you’ve always got people around you that can help. Whereas if you’re on an ambulance, there’s another person on the ambulance and if anything goes wrong, it’s up to you to try and solve it.”