Life-saving Kelso vets staff are hailed heroes

Jacky and Hamish Ritchie, with their dog Penny, vet Robbie Norquary and receptionist Sheila Fleming.
Jacky and Hamish Ritchie, with their dog Penny, vet Robbie Norquary and receptionist Sheila Fleming.

Three members of staff from a Borders veterinary practice have been hailed heroes after their quick-thinking helped to save the life of one of their customers.

Hamish Ritchie was given life-saving first aid by vets Robbie Norquay and Michael Kyle after he suffered a heart attack outside Galedin Vets in Kelso last September.

Jacky and Hamish Ritchie, with their dog Penny, Galedin Vets vet Robbie Norquary and receptionist Sheila Fleming.

Jacky and Hamish Ritchie, with their dog Penny, Galedin Vets vet Robbie Norquary and receptionist Sheila Fleming.

Hamish collapsed on his wife Jacky’s shoulder as the couple were driving home to Coldstream following a visit to Kelso garden centre.

Jacky stopped the car outside the practice at The Knowes, where their pet schnauzer Penny is registered, to raise the alarm.

Robbie and Michael carried Hamish into the surgery, where they performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, while receptionist Sheila Fleming rang an ambulance and drove Jacky to the Borders General Hospital in Melrose where paramedics took Hamish for treatment.

Jacky said: “It was an extremely frightening ordeal but the team at Galedin were absolutely wonderful.

“Hamish collapsed on my shoulder while I was driving so I quickly drove to the vets as we know them very well as we are clients.

“They called paramedics and the ambulance arrived very quickly, but they were so supportive throughout the whole distressing incident.”

Hamish spent three weeks in Border General Hospital, before being transferred to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, where he had a stent fitted to reduce the chance of another heart attack. He has since made a full recovery.

The couple returned to the surgery in happier circumstances this week to unveil a public-access defibrillator which was joint-funded by themselves and Galedin Vets, and has been placed outside the surgery at The Knowes.

The Galedin Vets team has undergone training to use the equipment by Kelso Heartbeat, a charity that provides basic life support training.

Vet Robbie added: “Mr Ritchie wasn’t breathing so we got him into the surgery. Sheila rang the ambulance and the operator talked us through how to perform CPR.

“It was pretty scary at the time, but it is great to now see him so well.

“Mr and Mrs Ritchie have kindly donated some money for a defibrillator at the surgery and we have contributed to the rest of the cost.”