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.
Throughout the past year, the charity-funded life saving service has responded to more time-critical emergencies than ever before, flying a record number of seriously ill and injured patients from every part of the country to hospital.
The charity have this week revealed the extent of their operations over the past 12 months.
From their operational bases at Perth Airport and Aberdeen, SCAA’s crews deployed to 460 life-threatening emergencies, a 31% increase on the previous year’s workload.
Responses to serious trauma cases increased by 41% and again dominated SCAA’s mission log, accounting for 47% of all the year’s call outs.
Of those trauma emergencies, 99 of the callouts were to road traffic collisions – almost half.
Crews were quickly on scene at crises throughout the whole of Scotland, tending the seriously sick and injured and flying or escorting a total of 193 to definitive hospital care.
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.
During 2020, SCAA was airborne for a total of over 461 hours, flying critical pre-hospital care to communities throughout mainland Scotland and many of its islands – more than 100 hours more than in 2019.
As well as attending car crashes, the crews’ workload last year also included 84 cardiac related emergencies, 21 strokes, 62 falls, 17 industrial and agricultural accidents 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.
Founded in 2010, last year SCAA impacted on the outcome for sick and injured from the Hebrides and Orkney to Aberdeenshire and The Borders.
The majority of emergencies attended by the charity’s distinctive air ambulance helicopters were in Grampian, Tayside and Highland health board areas, but ultimately travelled all over Scotland.
Throughout 2020, SCAA airlifted patients to hospitals throughout the country – the most visited being major trauma centres at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Ninewells and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital at Glasgow.
A total of 13 hospitals from Orkney to Newcastle were visited by SCAA to hand over seriously sick and injured patients.
Patients helped by SCAA ranged from babies to the elderly, with the majority being adults and a third involving patients aged over 65.
SCAA also attended 16 emergencies involving infants under the age of three, 12 children aged 4-12 and seven teenagers aged 13-17.
The charity’s 2020 mission log shows that the emergency response helicopter’s busiest month was August, while Fridays saw the greatest demand for the charity service.
Responding by both land as well as air, SCAA paramedics attended 65 emergencies in their Rapid Response Vehicle – 14% of the year’s call outs.
However, the charity were rewarded for their life-saving efforts.
Along with helping save hundreds of human lives, the charity’s paramedics also helped nurse a wounded hedgehog found at their Perth airbase back to health.
John Bullough, founding chairman of SCAA, was announced as an MBE recipient last year.
Last year, people who have been treated by SCAA paramedics were urged to share their stories by the charity to help raise awareness of their hard work.