SCOTLAND’S air ambulance charity has recorded its busiest ever year.

Emergency call outs “soared well beyond pre-pandemic levels”, the charity said, with crews being deployed more than twice a day on average through 2021.

Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) said its crews at its bases in Aberdeen and Perth were called out 810 times during 2021 - a 76% increase on the previous year's workload.

SCAA said those deployments saw a record number of seriously ill or injured patients flown rapidly to advanced hospital care from every part of the Scottish mainland and many of its islands.

A total of 333 people were airlifted by SCAA, with nearly three-quarters being flown to the country's four Major Trauma Centres at Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh.

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Traumatic injury cases showed a 49% increase and accounted for around 40% (323) of the year's call outs. Of these, the greatest number (135) were road traffic collisions, which accounted for nearly 42% of all trauma emergencies and 17% of the year's total deployments.

Other trauma emergencies attended by SCAA included falls (97), industrial accidents (23) and equestrian-related injuries (24).

SCAA's helicopters airlifted advanced medical teams directly to the scene of 111 emergencies in 2021. Crews were also quickly on scene for those taking seriously ill including cardiac related emergencies (136) and strokes (22).

A total of 160 missions involved air transfers from remote or island locations to advanced mainland hospital care where hours were saved on journey times for vulnerable patients.

SCAA's 2021 mission log shows that the emergency response helicopters' busiest month was July, while Thursdays saw the greatest demand for the charity service.

The National:

David Craig, SCAA chief executive, said: “We expected to become increasingly busy as the country returned to some semblance of normality following lockdown, but the demands on our two helicopters and Rapid Response Vehicles have been considerable throughout 2021.

"SCAA's speed and level of care have proven to be life-saving and our crews' impressive work - during another challenging year - has seen us delivering more emergency care than ever before which reflects the demand for our service."

He went on: "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."

SCAA crews support staff at Scotland’s state-funded air ambulance, which has bases in Glasgow and Inverness.

The charity, funded entirely by public donations, is now in its ninth year of operation. The latest statistics reflect the growing demand for SCAA's rapid response to time-critical emergencies, delivering pre-hospital care across the whole of Scotland and its island communities.