wildcat-large-logoWhen someone suffers a cardiac arrest, every second counts.

That’s why your support counts.

At the Sandpiper Trust, we’ve launched a new campaign to save more lives. Based on what we know works, we have extended our responder networks even further to focus specifically on cardiac arrest call outs.

Sandpiper Wildcat aims to save 50 lives every single year in Grampian. No wonder it’s our biggest campaign drive yet!

Did you know that last year there were 445 cardiac arrests in Grampian and that of these, only 18 people survived? We’re aiming to beat these statistics by raising £850,000 to create a network of trained Cardiac Responders across the north-east of Scotland.

Based at 50 locations around the region and linked to the Scottish Ambulance Service, they’ll be primed to deliver swift, on-the-spot medical care to people who have suffered cardiac arrest.

For every minute without the right emergency treatment, the survival chances of a cardiac arrest patient fall by 10 per cent.

That’s why the Sandpiper Wildcat project is so important. By providing treatment in those crucial early minutes, ahead of the arrival of the ambulance service, our community-based Cardiac Responders will make survival more likely.

They’ll be ready to make a difference.  A life-saving difference.


Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone

Cardiac arrest does not discriminate by age. Unlike a heart attack which predominantly affects those 40 years and over, cardiac arrest can affect anyone, at any age, with no early warning signs. A person can go from fit and healthy to critically ill in seconds.

A cardiac arrest happens when the heart stops pumping blood around the body, normally due to an electrical fault. CPR and defibrillator shock are necessary to correct that fault and return the heart to normal rhythm. A shock administered within 3-5 minutes of collapse can produce survival rates as high as 75%.


Lives touched by cardiac arrest

To demonstrate just how vital every single second is immediately after a cardiac arrest, we would like to introduce you to some special people. Their stories are all different, some were influenced by Sandpiper, others were not. Where they are similar though, is that they all highlight the importance of our work in local communities, like yours. Here are their stories.



Gillian’s Story

Gillian McKenzie was 42 years old when she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest outside her Stonehaven home. She had shown no early symptoms and so her collapse came out of the blue.

Gillian was with her 3 very young children when she collapsed in her driveway. Her quick thinking six-year-old son, Struan, immediately alerted his mums best friend and neighbour, Jackie.

Having called 999, Jackie was guided through CPR by the call handler and with the help of passer-by, Craig, they continued to give lifesaving CPR. What they didn’t know was that a road traffic accident was preventing both a city and Stonehaven ambulance from getting to the scene.

Fortunately, Local GPs, Dr. Kris McLaughlin and Dr. Stuart Reary were equipped with a Sandpiper bag and arrived within five minutes of the 999 call. The GP’s were able to administer defibrillator shocks which ultimately restarted Jackie’s heart and brought her back to life. A combination of Struan’s quick thinking, Jackie & Craig’s ongoing CPR and the GP’s defibrillator shock, saved Gillian’s life. The local Sandpiper equipped GP’s went on to work with the ambulance medics when they arrived on the scene too.

Gillian went on to make a full recovery and both herself and Jackie, have become staunch supporters of the Sandpiper Trust.

“When you call 999 you know the emergency services are working hard to get to you, but it’s not always possible to get there as quickly as you need. Sandpiper responders plug that gap, additional training and equipment, including a vital defibrillator, is given by the Sandpiper Trust and the ambulance service can call them out” explained Gillian.

She continued “Words cannot describe how indebted I am to Sandpiper, my story might have ended completely differently if it wasn’t for them.”

You can view Gillian’s story below. It’s told through a series of interviews with the individuals involved and takes you through what happened step by step from the point of Struan knocking on Jackie’s door to a very happy outcome.


Warning: some viewers may find this video distressing as it does contain part of the live telephone recording of the incident which was kindly provided by the Scottish Ambulance Service.


bernardBernard’s Story

Golfer Bernard Gallacher is a high profile Sandpiper survivor. In August 2013, while attending a Future Energy Golf Event at the Marcliffe, he fell ill. Quick thinking members of the public recognised that he had suffered a cardiac arrest and had started life saving treatment.

Alongside the ambulance team, Sandpiper responder & A&E anesthetist, Dr Mark Bloch, arrived shortly afterwards having receiving the 999 call.

En route to the hospital, Bernhard suffered three further cardiac arrests in the ambulance and was resuscitated each time by Mark.

Following the incident, Mark said “I took him to accident and emergency at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, from there to the intensive care unit. The ambulance team was outstanding and the members of the public who had started the life support made a vital contribution. It’s the team effort.”

Bernhard went on to spend five days in a medically-induced coma at ARI while his wife Lesley and children, Jamie, Laura and Sky Sports presenter Kirsty, remained at his bedside.

Since recovering, Bernhard has also paid tribute to Colin Leyden, the defibrillator salesman who was able to use the Marcliffe’s device to keep the golfer alive until Mark and his team arrived.

Bernhard has since been fitted with an implantable defibrillator since the cardiac arrests and the device has already been activated twice after washing the car and playing a round of golf.



Greg’s Story

Greg Wilson was 24 when he suffered a cardiac arrest in his bed while he was sleeping. His family found him collapsed on the floor of his bedroom after his younger brother Dominic, 18, heard a loud thud coming from the room. Luckily, Greg’s older brother Graham, 27, worked as an emergency medicine doctor at Raigmore Hospital and was also in the house at the time. He leapt into action as soon as he realised Greg had stopped breathing.

Knowing it was a life or death situation, Graham started giving his brother CPR and continued battling to save his life for 10 minutes until an ambulance arrived at the family home in Inverness. Paramedics used a defibrillator to revive Greg and he was then rushed to hospital for treatment. He was placed in an induced coma to give his body a rest and was diagnosed with a rare condition following tests.

Greg explained “I had a rare heart condition called Wolff-parkinson Whyte syndrome. Basically my heart short circuited itself, it sped up, it got too fast and just stopped.”

Greg said many people were not aware of the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest which can be suffered by healthy patients of any age.

He said: “Without my brother’s intervention and the defibrillator being there so soon, there is absolutely no chance that I would be here. That’s why I’ve got involved with the WildCat project and am championing it.”

The fireman, who has helped save many people’s lives himself during his career, said he feels guilty for surviving the condition when others haven’t been so lucky. He spent 21 days in hospital and was thankfully cured of the condition and allowed back to work.

He now wants to do as much as he can to raise awareness of the heart disorder and campaign for more communities to get access to life-saving defibrillators. Greg is 100% behind our Wildcat project, and has even signed up to become a Sandpiper responder himself. He added: “Within the first 10 minutes of stopping breathing, your chances of survival drops 10% every minute without early intervention. I can’t over emphasise the importance of having defibrillators and people trained in CPR.”

Keith’s Story

On January 25, 2012, Keith Cruickshank, from Huntly, had just returned home from work and laying flowers at his mother’s grave, when he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.

He said: “I was walking down the stairs and collapsed. There was no pain and the next thing I remember is waking up in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. I had been in an induced coma for two or three days.”

Keith survived because his then neighbour, Colin Grant, was there in seconds and immediately started CPR, pumping his chest to keep the blood flow going and his brain oxygenated after his heart went into crisis. The paramedics arrived on the scene within five minutes and were able to shock his heart with a defibrillator. The combination of immediate CPR and defibrillator shock saved Keith’s life. With survival chances reducing by 10% every minute every second counts.

Keith has made a good recovery after being fitted with an internal mini defibrillator which will automatically shock his heart if it goes into arrest again.

“CPR saved my life, now I’m helping others”

Four years on, Keith and his wife Katie have signed up to the Sandpiper Wildcat project which aims to establish teams of volunteer cardiac responders across Grampian.

After seeing publicity about the Sandpiper project, Katie and Keith attended a presentation by Project Leader, Keri Fickling in Huntly. Keith had never met the paramedics who worked on him and it was only when he started telling his story to the audience that Keri realised she had been one of the paramedics who treated him.

Keri said: “It is amazing that having gone through what he has done, he wants to help people in the way his neighbour helped him.

Keith admitted the training to become a cardiac responder was emotional. He said: “It was weird to start with. When we started using the defibrillator on the dummy I was shaking at my first attempt. Katie did the training with me and it was very emotional for me at the time.” Keith and Katie were among the first volunteers with a nonmedical background to go through the training.

Keri added “Keith’s story sums up everything we are trying to do with this project. He is a prime example of early CPR and early defibrillation and shows that people can survive these things.”


The stories you have heard so far have all had positive outcomes. But with less that 5%  of people who have cardiac arrests every year in Grampian surviving, there are many more sad endings.

Unfortunately, the next story is one of those.



Amy’s Story

Thirty-one-year-old Amy was 36-weeks pregnant with her third child when she suffered a fatal cardiac arrest in Laurencekirk.

Neither she nor her baby boy, later named Harry, survived, despite efforts to revive them.

amy-1It was a fundraising coffee morning in November 2013 when Amy collapsed. Her friends called 999 and the ambulance arrived 15 minutes 56 seconds after the initial 999 call was made. People at the coffee morning had given the best first aid they could, but there was no defibrillator and none of the community First Responders were on call that day.

Amy’s friends and family raised over £10,000 through Stars in the Sky and have made a very generous donation to Sandpiper Wildcat to help us bring the initiative to Laurencekirk, so no one else has to lose a loved one to cardiac arrest.

With your help, we can make Sandpiper Wildcat happen, saving more life’s like Amy’s.


Want to get involved?

There are more ways than one to get behind our Wildcat campaign.

If you are based in one of our 50 locations within Grampian, then you may be able to join our team as a volunteer cardiac responder. No medical experience is required as full training will be given. Take a look at our volunteering page for more information on the role of a Wildcat Responder.

If you’re interested in supporting our fundraising efforts , you’ll find details here.

Alternatively, to make a donation please visit our appeal page at Justgiving.com

Want to talk to us? Then get in-touch, we’d love to hear from you. Contact Jayne on 01764 660 447 or admin@sandpiperwildcat.co.uk