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First decade of Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance is marked at Holyrood reception

By Kyle Ritchie

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Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance’s (SCAA) first decade of life-saving service was marked at a special Scottish Parliamentary Reception at Holyrood.

Hosted by MSP John Swinney, the reception brought together major funders, supporters, trustees, charity staff, helicopter crew, volunteers and former patients who have all played a part in helping SCAA raise over £50 million and respond to more than 5000 call outs in its first 10 years.

Speaking at the event, Neil Gray, Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care, congratulated everyone involved in what he described as the team that “keeps the rotors running”.

MSP John Swinney spoke at the special Scottish Parliamentary Reception at Holyrood.
MSP John Swinney spoke at the special Scottish Parliamentary Reception at Holyrood.

He said: “Since its first mission in May, 2013, SCAA has grown to become an integral part of the pre-hospital care service in Scotland.

“It is services like SCAA that ensure our NHS can reach everyone, providing a vital lifeline for those in our most remote communities.’

Mr Swinney, whose constituency takes in SCAA’s headquarters at Perth Airport, also acknowledged all those who played a part in establishing and growing the charity into the vital resource it is for the 999 response network today.

He said: “SCAA is a tremendous success. To hear of the lives saved and the phenomenal fundraising success during its first 10 years is down to the efforts of everyone involved.

“Scotland is profoundly grateful to those who made it happen – SCAA is deeply valued by us all.”

SCAA chief executive David Craig spoke of the evolution and growth of SCAA, from the vision and commitment of those behind its creation to the vital life-saving service delivered by two helicopter air ambulances and two rapid response vehicles based at Perth and Aberdeen 10 years later.

He said: “More than a decade of saving and improving lives has positioned SCAA as one of the most recognisable charities in Scotland.

“An indispensable part of our nation’s emergency services and an organisation that is supported by – and resonates with – so many people.”

Mr Craig praised the “skill, professionalism and experience” of the charity’s paramedics and pilots.

He added: “Only recently SCAA recorded the busiest operation day in our history, responding to a range of 12 incidents including medical emergencies, traumatic injuries, patient retrievals and transfers from some of the most remote and rural areas in Scotland.”

Guests at the reception also heard a moving first-hand account of the life-saving role SCAA plays from former patient Debbie Duffus who suffered life-threatening injuries after being tossed and trampled by a cow.

Debbie recounted how SCAA’s fast arrival and rapid airlift to hospital proved the vital element in her survival and recovery.

Also present was SCAA’s first ever patient – Tricia Mackenzie – who was reunited with two of the crew who attended her following a road traffic accident on May 23, 2013.

Mr Craig also highlighted the increasing demand for air ambulance support in Scotland, pointing out that there are around 4000 requests for an air ambulance each year.

He said that SCAA would need to raise £8 million to sustain it for the next 12 months alone and estimated that a further £15-25 million will be required looking ahead five-ten years.

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