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2021 was the busiest year on record for Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance

By Jonathan Clark

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Helimed 76 takes flight.
Helimed 76 takes flight.

SCOTLAND'S Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) recorded its busiest ever year in 2021.

As the country emerged from coronavirus-enforced lockdown, there was an increased demand for the life-saving service.

Emergency call outs soared well beyond pre-pandemic levels, with crews at the charity's Aberdeen and Perth airbases deployed 810 times – a 76 per cent increase on 2020's workload.

SCAA Chief Executive David Craig said: "We expected to become increasingly busy as the country returned to some semblance of normality following lockdown, but the demands on our two helicopters and Rapid Response Vehicles were considerable throughout 2021.

"SCAA's speed and level of care have proven to be life-saving and our crews' impressive work during another challenging year has seen us delivering more emergency care than ever before which reflects the demand for our service."

The charity flew a record number of seriously ill or injured patients to advanced hospital care in 2021.

SCAA Paramedics Wendy Jubb (left) and Julia Barnes pictured at work on Helimed 76. Picture:Graeme Hart.
SCAA Paramedics Wendy Jubb (left) and Julia Barnes pictured at work on Helimed 76. Picture:Graeme Hart.

The majority of emergencies attended by the air ambulance helicopters were in the Highlands (27 per cent) and Grampian (24 per cent) health board areas.

In total, 333 people across Scotland were airlifted by SCAA, with nearly three quarters being flown to the country's four Major Trauma Centres in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh.

Traumatic injury cases accounted for around 40 per cent (323) of the year's call outs. Of these, 135 were to road traffic collisions.

Other trauma emergencies attended by SCAA included falls (97), industrial accidents (23) and equestrian-related injuries (24).

Throughout the year, SCAA's helicopters airlifted advanced medical teams directly to the scene of 111 emergencies, delivering critical care to those most in need.

Crews were also quickly on scene for those taking seriously ill including cardiac-related emergencies (136) and strokes (22).

A total of 160 missions involved air transfers from remote or island locations to advanced mainland hospital care, with hours saved on journey times for vulnerable patients.

The busiest month was July, while Thursdays saw the greatest demand for the charity service.

Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance is funded entirely by public donations and is now in its ninth year of operation.

The latest statistics reflect the growing demand for SCAA's rapid response to time-critical emergencies.

David Craig thanked the fundraising public for their support.

"It's been a trying year for everyone," he said. "But our amazing supporters kept the charity in their hearts throughout.

"With their ongoing generosity enabling SCAA to take more care, more quickly to more people throughout the whole of Scotland than ever before."

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