Perth base for Scotland's charity air ambulance

image captionScotland's Charity Air Ambulance hopes to have the new helicopter operational next year

Scotland's first charity-funded air ambulance helicopter is to be based in Perth.

The Scottish government and the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) have given the project the green light.

A new charity, Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA), will work to raise the funds necessary to launch the emergency service early in 2013.

About £1.5m will be needed each year to fund the air ambulance, which will be based at Perth Airport at Scone.

A total of 32 charity-funded helicopter air ambulances are operated by 18 charitable trusts across England and Wales.

In Scotland, the government funds two helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft based in Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen.

SCAA chairman John Bullough said the charity had identified an opportunity to work with the SAS to enhance the capabilities of Scotland's air ambulance resources.

He said: "Scotland is justifiably proud of her government-funded air ambulance service and SCAA can offer the people of Scotland an additional helicopter and crew resource which will add flexibility and extra capacity to the service.

"This will be the people's air ambulance, funded by the public and supported by communities the length and breadth of the country who recognise the value of fast-reaction medical air support in the face of mishap, illness and tragedy."

'Vital service'

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "The Scottish Ambulance Service air ambulance is the only publicly funded air ambulance service in the UK and it continues to provide a vital service for patients across Scotland.

"However, I welcome the work that is being done by this charity to help enhance the provision of air ambulances across the country.

"In a country like Scotland with its island, remote and rural areas, it is important that we work collaboratively with partners to support community resilience."

Although the new air ambulance will be funded by SCAA, the aircraft will be operated by the Scottish Ambulance Service alongside their own aircraft.

SAS Chief Executive Pauline Howie said: "We have worked closely with the trustees of SCAA to bring their plans to fruition and welcome the integration of an additional resource which will work alongside the existing fleet, adding flexibility and resilience to Scotland's air ambulance service.

"The SCAA helicopter will be crewed by Scottish Ambulance Service paramedics and tasked in exactly the same way as our own air ambulance helicopters.

"We look forward to having SCAA work alongside us and will now move to recruit and train paramedics for the role and help the charity to develop operational protocols from its base at Perth airport to be fit for purpose, in accordance with all aspects of clinical and operational governance."

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