Tayside and Central Scotland

Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance goes operational

Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance
Image caption The new helicopter will be tasked through the 999 emergency service

Scotland's first charity-funded air ambulance helicopter has gone operational.

Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) is based at Perth Airport and will supplement the work of the Scottish Ambulance Service.

It will be crewed by Scottish Ambulance Service paramedics and operate 10 hours a day, seven days a week, through the 999 emergency service.

A total of 32 charity-funded helicopter air ambulances operate across England.

The Scottish government funds two helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft which are based in Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen.

The SCAA launch marks the culmination of four years work by a small team of individuals who pulled together a partnership of public, private and third sector organisations to deliver an additional helicopter air ambulance for Scotland.

It will cost about £1.5m each year to fund the aircraft, pilots, paramedics and charity staff.

SCAA chairman John Bullough said: "Today's launch marks a real milestone for everyone involved. To have a resource like this for all the people of Scotland is just tremendous - but it will take each and every one of us to maintain this vital life-saving 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 clinical air support in the face of mishap, illness and tragedy.

"We've been really heartened by - and appreciative of - the amazing support the charity has received in order to bring us to operational readiness. But we need the help of everyone in Scotland to keep the country's charity air ambulance flying in the months and years ahead."

'Welcome addition'

Launching the new charity 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.

"I hope that this new charity funded air ambulance will help to enhance the provision of air ambulances across the country.

"It is important that patients can rely on the provision of a safe, responsive and high-quality air ambulance service and the funds raised by this charity will help to continue to deliver a world-class, future-proof service that has been specifically designed to benefit patients throughout Scotland."

Pauline Howie, chief executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, said the new air ambulance was a "welcome addition" to its fleet of helicopters and aeroplanes.

She added: "The additional helicopter will bring more flexibility and resilience to air ambulance operations across Scotland. It will be crewed by our own paramedics and tasked by our Ambulance Control Centre in the same way as our own aircraft."

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