Ambulance staff are right on the frontline of our NHS and serve a population of five million people in Scotland. Their job is to preserve life – that most precious of things – when it is at risk.
Despite the long and arduous shifts through the night and the often harrowing scenes they encounter, they continue to show great dedication and professionalism, day in, day out.
Last year alone, they answered 860,500 telephone calls and their response time for life threatening emergencies was 6.5 minutes.
So it was with great pleasure that in my role as convener of the Scottish Parliament’s health committee that I hosted a reception for the Scottish Ambulance Service last week, in which I had the opportunity to speak to staff about their work.
I heard about their plans to treat more patients in their homes, better meeting their needs and preventing unnecessary trips to hospital.
I also heard that the service intends to focus resources on patients with serious conditions who need to get to and from hospital appointments, or who need to be transferred or discharged.
And I had the opportunity to see the cutting edge technology which will ensure that your treatment begins as soon as the ambulance arrives on the scene and continues on the way to hospital - confirmation yet again that your life depends not simply when you go through the hospital doors, but as soon as the paramedics turn up.
I hope that I spoke for many at the event when I said that as the service adapts to meet the changes in society and the developing technology its philosophy still remains the same - For the Service of humanity - or put more simply, to help people.