On average, a charity-funded air ambulance takes to the skies somewhere in the UK every 10 minutes – flying potentially life-saving care to the scene of serious illness or injury.
This week the spotlight shines on the UK’s 39 helicopter air ambulances, operated by 21 separate charities, as they mark the nationwide Air Ambulance Week (September 7-13).
Here in Scotland, the country’s only charity-funded air ambulance service – Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) – has been providing vital emergency pre-hospital care since 2013. Its helicopters based at Perth and Aberdeen have responded to thousands of life-threatening emergencies in every corner of Scotland and its many islands, treating patients at scene and rapidly airlifting them to definitive hospital care.
And during this week, while the UK recognises its airborne heroes, SCAA is reaching out to the patients whose lives the charity has saved or improved and the many families whose lives have been impacted by the work of the dedicated crews.
The charity’s Chief Executive David Craig explained the special role played by many of SCAA’s former patients.
“Each and every patient is special to SCAA and their welfare is important to us,” said David. “Many thank us and give something back once the healing process is underway and one of the most valuable things they can do for us is share their story.
“No one tells of the work we do as powerfully and emotively as our patients,” he said. “Their often harrowing yet uplifting personal experiences are a testament to the daily life-saving efforts, professionalism and commitment of our crews as they battle to overcome distance, time constraints, challenging weather, difficult terrain and life-threatening injury and illness.
“These stories are what inspire the people of Scotland to get behind SCAA and fund our flights – their donations are vital to keeping our service in the air and patient stories are key in highlighting why there is that need.”
The theme of this year’s UK-wide Air Ambulance Week is “because every second counts …”, highlighting the critical impact that the speed of an air ambulance can have on a patient’s chances of survival.
During August alone, that speed was brought to the fore as SCAA responded to 65 emergencies throughout the whole of Scotland, with crews reaching patients in some of the country’s most remote and rural communities including Wester Ross, Orkney and the Hebrides.
In the past year, the service has flown to more serious incidents than ever before and flown more hours to reach those most in need.
“The demands on SCAA’s service never go away,” stressed David, “and the charity’s need of funds – particularly in these difficult times – never lessens.
“SCAA relies entirely on public donations to support our service and that amazing generosity sustains our £4 million annual costs.
“But in addition to those who so willingly and generously donate to our cause, our patients – both young and old – can play a vital role in spreading the word regarding how important our service is to Scotland.
“There are thousands of people that SCAA has helped over the years and during Air Ambulance Week we’re asking them to consider helping us by sharing their stories. Our crews always like to know how patients are doing and would love to hear from them.”
Anyone helped by SCAA in the past who would be willing to consider sharing their story can, as a first step and with no obligation, contact [email protected] or telephone SCAA PR on 07778-779-888 in confidence.
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