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Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance responded to record number of emergencies in 2020


By Jonathan Clark

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SCAA Paramedics Wendy Jubb (left) and Julia Barnes pictured at work on Helimed 76. Picture by Graeme Hart. Copyright Perthshire Picture Agency Tel: 01738 623350 Mobile: 07990 594431
SCAA Paramedics Wendy Jubb (left) and Julia Barnes pictured at work on Helimed 76. Picture by Graeme Hart. Copyright Perthshire Picture Agency Tel: 01738 623350 Mobile: 07990 594431

THE launch of a second life-saving helicopter in the spring of last year helped Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) respond to a record number of emergencies in 2020.

In April, the charity-funded service launched its second helicopter, based at Aberdeen Airport. Previously, it had just one helicopter – based in Perth.

As a result, SCAA flew a record number of seriously ill and injured patients to advanced hospital care across Scotland, deploying to 460 life-threatening emergencies – a 31 per cent increase on 2019's workload.

Responses to serious trauma cases increased by 41 per cent – again dominating SCAA's mission log and accounting for 47 per cent (217) of all the year's call outs. Of those trauma emergencies, 46 per cent were road traffic collisions (99).

The air ambulance flew or escorted 193 people to definitive hospital care.

SCAA Helimed 76.
SCAA Helimed 76.

In addition to airlifting patients to hospital, SCAA's paramedics were on scene to treat and assist in cases ranging from major multiple casualty trauma incidents to single patient illnesses in remote and rural locations.

The crews' workload last year also included 84 cardiac related emergencies, 21 strokes, 62 falls, 17 industrial accidents (including agricultural) and six emergencies involving burns.

A further 60 call outs involved air transfers from remote or island locations to advanced mainland hospital care where hours were saved on journey times for vulnerable patients.

The majority of emergencies attended by the charity's distinctive air ambulance helicopters were in the Grampian (27 per cent), Tayside (25 per cent) and Highland (19 per cent) health board areas.

The most visited major trauma centre was at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, where 28 per cent of all emergency airlifts were to.

Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance Base, Aberdeen (SCAA) home to Helimed 79 Paramedics with Helimed 79 pictured at the SCAA hangar at Aberdeen Airport. Picture by Graeme Hart. Copyright Perthshire Picture Agency Tel: 01738 623350 Mobile: 07990 594431
Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance Base, Aberdeen (SCAA) home to Helimed 79 Paramedics with Helimed 79 pictured at the SCAA hangar at Aberdeen Airport. Picture by Graeme Hart. Copyright Perthshire Picture Agency Tel: 01738 623350 Mobile: 07990 594431

Patients helped by SCAA ranged from babies to the elderly, with the majority being adults aged 18-64 (60 per cent). 32 per cent involved patients aged over 65.

SCAA also attended 16 emergencies involving infants under the age of three, 12 children aged between four and 12 and seven teenagers aged between 13 and 17.

The busiest month was August, while Fridays saw the greatest demand for the charity's service.

While the SCAA was airborne for more than 461 hours, paramedics also attended 65 emergencies in their rapid response vehicle, accounting for 14 per cent of the year's call outs.


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