Two Highland Council workers have this week been commended for coming to the rescue of a Skye resident with dementia who was found motionless on the ground in freezing conditions on Hogmanay.
Refuse workers Kenny Gillies and Ronnie Reid were doing their rounds in the south of the island on Hogmanay morning when they noticed something untoward.
“It was around 8.40am, and we were doing our usual bin round through Ardvasar village,” Kenny told the Free Press.
“Once we turned at the Calgary road end we proceeded back towards the village to continue picking up bins. As we approached our next stop Ronnie spotted something on a driveway as we were passing.
“We weren’t 100 per cent sure what it was but on stopping we discovered a gentleman lying on his back and showing no movement.”
Kenny soon recognised the man as Seoras MacInnes, a resident of Ardvasar.
He said: “Because I know the family and recognised the gentleman I shouted his name and he then moved.
“Ronnie and I spoke with him and asked how long he’d been there. He said about five minutes but I think it was longer than that going by how cold he was and shivering.”
Kenny and Ronnie tried to get Mr MacInnes on his feet but he was suffering from pain in one of his arms so they didn’t want to make it worse.
“We managed to get him sitting upright and put a jacket around him trying to get him as warm as possible, he then rested himself against Ronnie while I went down to his son’s house to let them know what happened,” said Kenny.
“The driveway was a sheet of ice and very hard to walk on. After speaking with the gentleman’s granddaughter she got her dad and both came up to where he had fallen.
“Because the driveway was so icy it wasn’t an option to walk him down to the house and also made it difficult getting a vehicle up the driveway.
“His son attempted to drive a pick-up up the driveway but unfortunately couldn’t.”
Kenny told the Free Press that they had been at the scene for around 25 minutes at this point during which time not one vehicle had passed meaning that Seoras could have been laying there for all the time unable to move.
“A tractor stopped when he spotted something wasn’t right. After explaining what had happened to him he said his son was just down the road with a 4×4 and called him to come up.
“By this time James – Seoras’ son – had tried another vehicle and managed to get to his dad.
“Between us all we managed to get him on his feet and slowly walk him to the car. We were just thankful that we spotted him because I think if it wasn’t for the height of the lorry then others could have driven by without noticing him.”
Seoras’ son James said that his father had broken his shoulder following the fall but paid thanks to Kenny and Ronnie for helping his father.
Kenny added: “I checked in with the family that evening and was told that he was kept in Broadford hospital with a suspected broken shoulder. “It was also very kind of the family to get in touch with our boss to pass on their thanks for what we had done. We regularly see him most weeks so look forward to seeing him back in the village soon.”
Paying tribute to Kenny and Ronnie for their decisive intervention, Skye and Raasay Councillor John Finlayson told the Free Press: “Clearly the most important thing is that Seoras is recovering in hospital which is down to the alertness and quick thinking of Ronnie and Kenny, which certainly ensured that a positive outcome came of what could have been a tragic situation.
“I personally would like to thank them for what they did and all our employees for their support over the festive season as well as in recent months.
“I have received many communications from members of the public highlighting a number of situations where workers have gone beyond their contractual obligations to help people in the community.”