The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)
Lifesaver ready for take-off
Community: Charity hails amazing efforts to prepare Scotland’s second air ambulance
The north-east’s new helimed will take up service at the end of this week, despite nationwide disruption. Coronavirus might have caused Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) to cancel a grand launch event, media access and a planned tour taking the aircraft around the region – but the crew will begin its lifesaving work on Friday.
Like many workplaces across the country, the charity’s non-essential staff are working from home but its new base in Dyce has remained a hive of activity.
Helimed 79, newly refurbished and upgraded, arrived at Aberdeen Airport last week and builders transforming Babcock’s hangar in Farburn Terrace into a purpose-designed air ambulance base are expected to complete their work by this evening.
Teams, while working in isolation or at recommended distances, have been in at weekends as efforts were ramped up to get the job finished ahead of take-off.
SCAA chief executive David Craig
SCAA chief executive David Craig said: “We are always immensely proud of the crew but, even in these difficult circumstances, they have also been working behind the scenes helping to put it all together.
“While we might look at the bigger jobs of getting the helicopter and base ready, they have been getting equipment and essentials together.
“They were in over the weekend to get things sorted and indeed two of them were completing their final signoff for part of their training.
“Everyone has worked tirelessly to get this done and it’s a lot of things people won’t see.
“Even in these difficult circumstances, we still continue to help people all over Scotland.
“It’s hugely exciting to be launching this week and we look forward to increasing air ambulance capacity and resilience.”
The Aberdeen-based EC135 T2E copter will be the charity’s second aircraft, with the first having flown from Perth Airport since 2013.
Although tasked to jobs all across Scotland by the ambulance service, it is hoped the north-east’s most seriously ill and injured patients will benefit hugely from the new aircraft as it will dramatically increase the reach of Aberdeen’s major trauma centre.
Mr Craig said: “We are deployed by the ambulance control room and, as of now, tasking and deployment has not changed.
“Obviously crew are putting themselves at the frontline as, quite frankly, they will not know if someone is transmitting coronavirus. They are kitted out with protective equipment required. As for the transferring of coronavirus-positive patients, that’s something we leave firmly with the ambulance service.
“We are ready to help and assist where we possibly can.”
Mr Craig also vowed that plans to let north-east communities get up close to the aircraft would not “go to waste” as an open day will be held once the Covid-19 pandemic is overcome.