An ambulance was finally dispatched for a man found unresponsive in Glasgow city centre having taken a suspected overdose over seven hours after the 999 call was made.

Volunteers from Homeless Project Scotland were packing up at the charity's soup kitchen on Argyle Sreet on Wednesday night when they saw the man collapse.

The trained volunteers suspected the man was suffering from an overdose and administered naloxone - a medicine that works to reverse an opioid overdose.

Calling 999 for an ambulance to rush the man to the hospital at around 9.30pm, they were told it would be three and a half hours before urgent medical help would arrive.

Aware the clock was ticking after administering the medicine, the team of volunteers decided to rush the man to hospital in the back of their outreach van, which had been donated to the charity by car dealership Peter Vardy.

When the service finally called back to say paramedics were on the way, it was 5.15 the next morning - over seven hours later.

The man was given naloxone

Colin McInnes, the charity's chairperson, was one of three volunteers who helped save the man's life last night.

Speaking to the Daily Record, he explained: "The soup kitchen packed up about 9.30pm and we came across an unresponsive male with a suspected overdose.

"We did all the tests, pinching his earlobe and put pressure on his collarbone, but had no response.

"So, we gave him a full naloxone pen and he came round a bit and started mumbling a bit but then went back into a deep sleep again.

"We then made the call to use a second naloxone pen and there was no response at all, so he was totally unconscious at this point.

"A colleague had called 999 and was on the phone to the ambulance service, told them all of this information, explaining he's unresponsive, his pulse is very, very weak, he's in a bad way.

"But they said that, unfortunately, it was really busy and they were going to be three and a half hours for an ambulance."

Colin added: "With naloxone training, you're told time matters. Saving a life is all about time.

"There is a high chance that the person could go into cardiac arrest and you need to perform CPR on a defibrillator.

"We have 30 minutes from giving that man naloxone to getting him medical help, so we decided that we would lift his deadweight body into the van and rush him to the Royal Infirmary.

"The paramedics checked the guy there and he was unresponsive and a nurse brought a bed out from resus before they took him away into A&E."

"If we hadn't got that man to the hospital, I believe he would have died.

"That man was unconscious, unresponsive, with a suspected overdose and being given naloxone, there's nobody medically trained on-site, and that man was just lying there with us.

"If this is the way they treat drug overdoses, then there's going to be more drug deaths.

"There's no beating about the bush with drug overdoses, there's no time to delay in these cases. I understand the ambulance service is under pressure but they need to come out and say 'we don't have ambulances and people may die'."

The 29-year-old, who lives in South Lanarkshire, was later told that the ambulance service had called back a volunteer at around 5.15am on Thursday morning - over seven hours after they dialed 999 for an ambulance - to let her know paramedics were on their way.

Reflecting on what could have happened if a passerby found the man, Colin said: "A lot of people wouldn't wait if they phoned the ambulance for him.

"Seven and a half hours is a long time to wait on a cold pavement with someone in the recovery position.

Homeless Project Scotland is made up of 820 volunteers

"I fear what would have happened if we weren't there but naloxone only saves a life if you get medics quickly. In this case, the man was in a deep sleep and still overdosing, we don't have the drugs that the ambulance has to bring him around from that."

While the heroic volunteers who stepped in were naloxone trained, and there was first aid and a defibrillator nearby, Colin confirmed they were left 'scarred' by the experience.

"You go from stirring a pan to saving lives", he explained.

But he reveals this is not the first time he's experienced ambulance delays with lives at risk and has called for the Scottish Government to take action on social media.

He explains: "It's worrying for us that when you need medical help, you can't get medical help.

"We want to make it clear we're not criticising the ambulance service or the NHS, I think government ministers need to look at this because if the ambulance service cannot send an ambulance because they do not physically have one to send, that's not their fault is it?"

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "Because of the global pandemic and it’s multiple knock-on effects, the ambulance service is under its most extreme pressure since the founding of the NHS.

"The service has apologised for the delay in this case – and, in addition, the First Minister has apologised unreservedly to anyone that has suffered or is suffering unacceptably long waits.

"We recognise how essential it is to support our heroic ambulance crews and call-handlers through the unprecedented current pressures – and we’ve already announced £10 million to fund almost 300 new jobs. Additional actions are under urgent consideration, including targeted military assistance to help deal with short-term pressure points.

"Despite this pressure, our ambulance service, which serves some of the most rural areas in the UK, in 2020-21 crews responded to over 70% of highest priority calls in under 10 minutes and more than 99% in under 30 minutes."

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson said: "We are really sorry for the delay in reaching this patient.

"We are currently facing significant, sustained pressure and extremely high demand on our services which is unfortunately leading to longer response times.

"Our staff are working hard to get to patients as quickly as possible and we continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and other health boards to try and overcome some of the challenges being faced."

Peter Vardy CEO, the company that provided the charity's van, said: “The work of the Homeless Project Scotland team is truly amazing, they provide an invaluable service supporting homeless and vulnerable people across Scotland.

"The team are a true inspiration, and we are delighted to support in a small way by providing a vehicle for them to carry out their vital services, and hope it inspires other to support the team."

The charity relies entirely on public donations - you can donate to the Homeless Project Scotland here.