SCOTLAND’S first charity-funded air ambulance service has completed its 200th mercy mission - only eight months after taking to the skies to extend life-saving cover across the country.
The new “people’s air ambulance” service, based at Perth Airport, was launched last May to improve clinical care in communities throughout Scotland, supplementing the pilots and paramedics of the Scottish Ambulance Service who already undertake more than 3,500 missions a year.
The charity revealed that the new lifeline service had clocked up its 200th mission with a mercy dash to a riding accident in the Clyde Valley.
The 200 callouts have seen the charity’s distinctive blue, green and yellow Bolkow 105 fly over 17,800 miles - during nearly 150 hours - taking it to emergencies right across Scotland on an average mission length of 45 minutes.
Gavin Davey, the chief executive of the Scottish Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) service, explained that more than half the workload of Helimed 76 has been to serious trauma cases, flying all over Scotland to those involved in time-critical emergencies and transporting them to hospitals by the quickest possible method.
He said: “Our crews have dealt with all types of emergency from road traffic accidents and serious falls to medical emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes. In most cases we have lifted casualties and in others we have provided medical help at the scene – often in difficult and demanding locations.”
The new service, which is costing £1.5 million a year to run, is aimed at providing an additional resource during daylight hours, adding more flexibility to the fully-funded air ambulance service, which operates two helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft based in Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen. The new SCAA helicopter is crewed by Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) paramedics.
Mr Davey stressed that the frontline life-saving helicopter only flew thanks to the generous donations from the general public, trusts, private and corporate supporters.And he continued: “The people of Scotland seem to have taken SCAA to their heart and they know that the only fuel we fly on is their charity giving. Our growing band of supporters continues to step up to the mark and ensure Helimed 76 keeps flying for the benefit of everyone in the country.
““Our work has taken us to most parts of Scotland including Perthshire, Fife, Angus, Dundee, Aberdeenshire, Lothian, Dumfries and Galloway, the Borders and the Highlands and Islands, and we have transferred patients to hospitals right across the country including Glasgow’s Western and Southern General, Lorne and Isles Hospital at Oban, Edinburgh Royal, Aberdeen and Dundee’s Ninewells.”
He added: “There is no doubt that this unique service in Scotland has contributed to saving numerous lives and relieving pain and SCAA’s work is impacting on the lives of hundreds of people right across Scotland - either directly with patients or indirectly with relatives, friends and colleagues.”