Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) has reported a record 810 callouts in 2021 – a 76-per-cent year-on-year increase compared with the previous year.
This included 333 airlifts by SCAA – 140 more than in 2020 – of which nearly three quarters were flown to one of Scotland’s four Major Trauma Centers in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
SCAA paramedics in ground-based Rapid Response Vehicles also attended 219 emergencies throughout the year.
Trauma injury cases were the main cause of callouts, accounting for 323 missions in 2021, representing a 49-per-cent increase from 2020.
Of these, 135 (42 per cent) were road traffic collisions. Road collisions accounted for 17 per cent of the year’s total deployment. Other trauma emergencies included 97 falls, 24 equestrian-related injuries and 23 industrial accidents.
SCAA crews also responded to those taken seriously ill, including 136 cardiac related emergencies and 22 strokes, and also airlifted advanced medical teams directly to the scene of 111 emergencies.
“We expected to become increasingly busy as the country returned to some semblance of normality following lockdown,” said SCAA Chief Executive David Craig. “But the demands on our two helicopters and Rapid Response Vehicles have been considerable throughout 2021.”
The majority of SCAA missions were in Scotland’s northern regions
While patients aided by the SCAA ranged from babies to the very elderly, the majority of patients were adults aged between 18-64 (55 per cent). Patients aged over 65 constituted 34 per cent of cases, and under 18s made up the remaining 11 per cent.
The majority of emergencies attended to by SCAA crews were in the Highlands (27 per cent), Grampians (24 per cent) and Tayside (19 per cent) in northern Scotland – regions known for being relatively isolated compared with the more densely populated Central Belt.
SCAA served a total of 160 missions involving air transfers from remote or island locations to advanced mainland hospitals.
The organization’s log shows that the busiest month of 2021 was July, when the Scottish government moved to ‘level zero’ Covid restrictions.
“It's been a trying year for everyone, but our amazing supporters kept the charity in their hearts throughout, with their ongoing generosity enabling SCAA to take more care, more quickly to more people throughout the whole of Scotland than ever before,” said Craig.