‘Sky High’ demand as Scotland Charity Air Ambulance marks 10th year

A Scotland Charity Air Ambulance helicopter.
Photo Credit: Scotland Charity Air Ambulance

LONDON – The demand for Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance has continued to grow as the service records its busiest ever year.

2022 saw the country’s only charity air ambulance service respond to 967 call outs from its bases in Perth and Aberdeen airports. This represents a 19% increase on the previous year.

A valued integral part of Scotland’s emergency response network, SCAA plays a vital role in getting paramedics and specialist teams quickly to the scene of serious illness and injury. The operation also provides life-saving care in the air and transfers patients onwards to appropriate hospitals.

Figures just released show that during 2022, the charity airlifted more patents than ever before to often-critical hospital care (+8%).

And with traumatic injury cases continuing to dominate SCAA’s workload (38%), nearly two thirds of all airlifted patients were flown to the country’s four Major Trauma Centres at Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Using both helicopter air ambulances and Rapid Response Vehicles at both bases, SCAA has seen a sharp increase in the number of emergency call outs to road traffic collisions (187).

In 2022, these accounted for more than half of all trauma cases and showed an increase of 39% on the previous year.

Other trauma emergencies attended included falls (94), industrial accidents (26) and equestrian-related injuries (21).

Throughout the past year, SCAA’s helicopters airlifted advanced medical teams directly to the scene of 134 emergencies, delivering critical care as quickly as possible to those most in need.

SCAA was also deployed on often life-saving missions to a record number of cardiac (+35%) and stroke (+73%) patients last year where speed proved critical.

Over 130 vulnerable patients were transferred from remote or island communities to advanced mainland hospital care throughout the year, saving the alternative lengthy road and ferry journeys.

In 2022, SCAA also saw the number of hours flown by Helimed 76 (Perth) and Helimed 79 (Aberdeen) to missions in every corner of the country increase by more than seven per cent, with over 700 hours in the air covering nearly 92,000 miles.

Reflecting on another record year, SCAA Chief Executive David Craig said it was now “unthinkable” to imagine a pre-hospital service network in Scotland without the charity.

“The growing reliance on SCAA, working closely with the Scottish Ambulance Service, shows what a vital role the charity plays in saving and improving lives in Scotland,” he said.  

“Thousands of patients across the whole of Scotland and its many islands owe their life to the fast intervention of SCAA,” he said.

“The demand on our service has never been greater and our crews continue to respond impressively to deliver more emergency care year on year.

“Our record deployment to high-acuity trauma and time-critical illness shows the demanding role our teams fulfil – day in and day out,” he said, “and their speed and level of care have proven to be life-saving for so many.

This year SCAA marks its 10th anniversary and Mr Craig also praised the generosity of the people of Scotland who continue to fund the service.

“Throughout those 10 years, our supporters have kept SCAA in their hearts and contributed magnificently to ensure we were there for those most in need,” he said.

“With their ongoing generosity, SCAA will continue to respond to an ever-increasing workload throughout 2023 and beyond.”

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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