Union leaders are demanding round-the-clock ambulance cover at stations along the A9.
It follows claims of “exhausted” and overworked paramedics suffering fatigue, due to a problematic and “outdated” on-call system.
The GMB Union has warned the set-up is leaving the public without adequate emergency cover. It has called for a radical overhaul of the service in the Highlands and Perthshire, urging the Scottish Ambulance Service and the Scottish Government to make all rural stations 24-hour operations.
The GMB’s John Marr said there was growing concern about the number of ambulance staff taking time off because of tiredness.
“We’ve got a situation where paramedics are put on-call after working a shift of often more than 12 hours,” he said. “If they are called out in the middle of the night, they have to get up, gret dressed, get outside and hope that the ambulance in their driveway hasn’t frosted up.
“Then they have to drive and picked up their partner, all before they can attend the emergency.”
He said: “It’s a situation which is not only putting patients at risk, but also our crews.”
Fully-manned stations would see paramedics replaced by a fresh team after each shift. “There is a lack of resources in the north which is leaving the service at breaking point,” he said. “It is impacting on our response times in emergencies.”
The ambulance service has depots in Pitlochry and Perth, as well as at Callander and Crieff.
There are also seven stations along the A9 in the Highlands.
A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman said: “The health, safety and welfare of our staff is a key priority… and we have measures in place to enable staff members to book time off if they are fatigued.”
He said additional posts had been created along the A9 corridor in response to changing demands.
“We have been working in partnership with all unions and stakeholders over the last few months to review our on-call arrangements and, in recent years, we have significantly reduced the number of hours worked on-call by staff,” he added.
“We are committed to continuing discussions and making further progress with this in order to further enhance patient care and staff experience.”