The Shetlanders: the emergency sisters

Kaylee and Emma Stevenson aren’t sisters in the biological sense (they’re actually sisters-in-law, after Emma married Kaylee’s brother Gordon). But, if you were being a bit woo-woo about it, you might describe them as soul sisters. Great friends since they met at 12, and joined the local cross-country running team together, they both have big dogs, big laughs and a bigger-than-average tolerance for Abba tribute bands. They also both work in Shetland’s emergency services.

Emma works as a specialist paramedic at the Ambulance Service in Lerwick, while Kaylee works as a senior maritime operations officer at the Shetland Coastguard, which means she’s often the first port of call in an emergency. Both recently appeared on Island Medics, the BBC programme about Shetland’s health and rescue services. “Shetland’s a challenging but brilliant place to work,” says Emma. “We do need more medical staff to come, and newcomers always get a really good welcome here.”

Both moved back to Shetland after stints away, with Emma working for the ambulance service in Oxford and Kaylee working in Swedish ski chalets and on Greek yachts. Kaylee came back because she missed the warmth of Shetland people: “People here are always willing to help you out,” she says. For Emma, the plan was always to return. “If we were to start a family, it would definitely be here,” she says. “It’s so safe, the education’s good, and there’s just that real sense of community”.