Huntly paramedic goes airborne with charity ambulance team dedicated to getting people to hospital as swiftly as possible
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A HUNTLY lifesaver is currently flying high with the Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance, SCAA.
Paramedic Claire Allan, 48, has begun a three month secondment with Helimed 79 based in Aberdeen.
Mrs Allan joined the Scottish Ambulance Service 11 years ago as a technician. A combination of on the job training and study at Glasgow Caledonia University saw her become a paramedic seven years ago.
Early in 2020, she completed technical crew member training to be a reservist with the SCAA covering shifts while people were on holiday or off sick and recently she seized the opportunity for a three month secondment with the unit.
Claire is well qualified to deal with the medical emergencies the team is called to, but on the air ambulance, crew have to assist the pilot with navigation, weather forecasting, spotting obstacles and finding a suitable place to land.
Mrs Allan explained: "We have to look for a safe place to land as close as we can to the incident with decent access and a size and slope that makes it suitable. If it's not safe we will abort.
"It's all eyes out to secure a safe landing. You are looking out for hazards like power lines, stock in fields and crops as we try not to cause damage."
Helimed 79 is crewed by two paramedics and a pilot whose sole responsibility is flying the aircraft.
A trauma team - a medical consultant and retrieval practitioner - accompany them to the most serious or critical calls.
The decision on whether the trauma team fly with the SCAA is taken by call handlers on a specialist services desk within the Scottish Ambulance Service.
Claire is relishing the opportunity to learn from the trauma team with whom they train daily.
She said:" It's challenging but a great opportunity as every day I am exposed to advanced skills with the trauma team."
The first week, saw her attend calls from Banchory to Nethybridge - and included serious equestrian accidents, one involving a child, and a number of serious RTC's.
Weather conditions last Wednesday meant a call to near Huntly had to be aborted due to low cloud.
The air ambulance shaves critical time off getting a patient to hospital and while her daily commute from Huntly might take almost an hour, the air ambulance can take a seriously ill patient from the Huntly area to ARI in 12 to 15 minutes depending on weather conditions.
She said: "It's not just the acuity of the patient but the remoteness of the location which means the air ambulance is deployed. It's a lifeline to the islands and takes critical hours off travel for patients. If people can be stabilised and get to hospital quickly their chances of recovery are so much better."
On a previous rota, Mrs Allan helped rescue a walker with a broken leg from Bennachie.
Mrs Allan's team leader Ewen Littlejohn said: "The SAS road ambulance would have taken two to three hours to get to that person because of the remoteness and difficult terrain. We were able to land safely, get to them and uplift them within an hour."
Mrs Allan is undecided if she would move permanently to the air ambulance were the opportunity to arise.
"She said: "I am really enjoying it. It is a different way of working and I get a great buzz when you get that call. You never know what you will be presented with so it's challenging but a great learning experience."