Falkirk doctor takes care of Olympic relay team

Olympic Torch medic Laura McGregor graduated from Glasgow University
Olympic Torch medic Laura McGregor graduated from Glasgow University
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It’s not just the Olympic Torch that will be in good hands during its historic tour of the UK this summer.

An experienced emergency doctor from Falkirk has been picked to accompany the relay, making sure everyone is looked after and, if need be, provide on-the-spot medical or even life-saving care.

As the names of the 2012 torchbearers are revealed, medic Laura McGregor (32) has been told she will be right beside the famous flame as it makes its way Britain in July.

She will be responsible for the torchbearers themselves and up to 350 people in the entourage.

The former Falkirk High pupil has worked with Scotland’s ‘flying doctors’ and rescue helicopters in New Zealand as part of her training to become an A&E consultant.

And she believes it’s this experience of providing emergency medicine on the move that gave her the advantage when the prestigious opportunity arose.

She said: “I am really excited about it, and it has been described as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I’ll be working with another doctor and we have to be available 24/7 for the whole of July.

“I first heard about the opportunity at a trainee conference when the lead doctor for all of the Olympics came to to explain about the jobs that would be available.

“I applied for the Torch position as I thought it sounded more exciting and would be fun to travel around the country.

‘‘I already have experience of pre-hospital care, which is when A&E doctors are trained to work on helicopters and at the roadside.”

After graduating from Glasgow University, Laura, originally from Hillhead Drive, worked in Glasgow, New Zealand and Liverpool as part of her training.

A decade on and she’s in her final year as an emergency medicine registrar and used to be on the move.

She said: “In New Zealand I worked on the Otago Rescue Helicopter, and most recently I worked in Scotland last year for the Emergency Medical Retrieval Service, which is Scotland’s flying doctors.”

The service provides patients who have life-threatening conditions in remote and rural areas of the country with rapid access to the skills of a consultant in emergency or intensive care medicine.

And Laura was an onboard consultant when the team carried out its 1000th critical mission, transferring two ventilated patients from Orkney to intensive care at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Now, Laura works in A&E in Liverpool.

She said: “I finish there at the end of April when I will have completed my training as an A&E consultant.”

After that, Laura will be starting a one-year clinical fellowship before she starts work at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie in 2013.

She said: “A clinical fellowship is like taking an extra year out to do some more training before you become a consultant.

“For this I will be working for the London Air Ambulance and the East Anglia Air Ambulance.

“It is these employers who are allowing me to take time out of my job as a helicopter doctor to work with the Olympics.”

Laura’s Olympic role involves working in a team of two doctors, providing emergency or general care to the torchbearers, and the hundreds of people who could make up the relay crew.

She could also be called on at any time of the day or night as the torch travels from Birmingham to the Olympic Stadium in London.

And with an average of 115 people carrying the flame every day through hundreds of communities, she is sure to be kept on her toes.

Laura added: “I’m going on a four-day course next month which is like a dress rehearsal for the Olympics so I’m really excited to get an idea of what it will be like.”