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Second charity helicopter air ambulance launched in Scotland

Helimed 79 will be based in Aberdeen and will cover the whole of the north-east including the Northern Isles.

A new air ambulance takes to the skies today as Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) launches its second life-saving emergency response helicopter which will help save lives across the north east, including the Northern Isles.

The only charity of its type in Scotland has operated a single aircraft nationwide Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) since 2013 from its base at Perth Airport, saving and impacting on thousands of lives.

Since then, SCAA has responded to nearly 2,500 emergencies from Orkney to the Borders and the Western Isles to the east coast.

Now the charity has doubled its capability, with a second helicopter service (callsign Helimed 79) launched from an additional base at Aberdeen International Airport.

Together, the charity’s two air ambulances will cover the whole of Scotland, working alongside two Government-funded helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft — all tasked through the country’s 999 emergency response service.

John Bullough, founding chairman of SCAA, described today’s launch as a “major milestone” for the charity.

“There’s never been a more crucial time for additional emergency pre-hospital care resources in Scotland and SCAA is proud to be able to strengthen the country’s air ambulance fleet.

“Within seven years, this relatively young charity has been able to sustain one helicopter and then fund a second which is a remarkable achievement for everyone involved — not least the public, whose generous support funds our entire life-saving service.

“During these difficult times, the demands on frontline emergency services has never been greater and we hope the public will continue to support us — ensuring that, with the launch of Helimed 79, we can fly more care, more quickly, to more people wherever the need arises in Scotland.

“We wish Helimed 79, her long-serving stablemate Helimed 76 and their experienced and professional crews safe flying in the years to come.”

Tom Steele, chair of the Scottish Ambulance Service, welcomed the arrival of the country’s latest air ambulance.

“Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance has proved a vital component in the 999 emergency response network, responding to nearly 2,500 emergencies since the charity launched,” he said.

“Working very closely with the Scottish Ambulance Service, SCAA has saved many lives — especially in the more remote and rural areas of Scotland — and a second helicopter will add very significant capability to the entire Scottish air ambulance fleet, bringing fast medical care to sick and injured patients as well as quick life-saving transport to hospital if required.

“Everyone in the country should be very grateful to SCAA for their massive fund-raising effort and to the Scottish public for their generous ongoing support,” he added. “We all wish them well in their crucial role.”

SCAA Chief Executive David Craig said the charity’s new air ambulance asset was launching in “unprecedented and challenging times”.

“The need for air ambulance resources in Scotland is proven,” he said, “and we stand ready to deploy Helimeds 79 and 76 as and when they are required by the Scottish Ambulance Service.

“Our new air response asset in Aberdeen will serve not only the north east but the whole of Scotland as and when required during these difficult times and into the future.

“We hope the people of Scotland will continue to support this life-saving charity in  the way they have for the past seven years, ensuring that SCAA is available to fly to those most in need.”

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