Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has welcomed the formal launch of the new EC-145 air ambulance at a ceremony earlier today at Glasgow airport.
The new helicopters, which will replace the existing aircraft at Glasgow and Inverness, are due to go into service later this summer. Before then, however, Scottish Ambulance Service plan to take one of the helicopters on a tour of some of the rural and island communities that rely so heavily upon the service, including Orkney, so that people have an opportunity to see for themselves what the new aircraft have to offer.
Commenting after the launch event, Mr McArthur said:
“Since being elected as Orkney’s MSP, the issue of air ambulance provision has been top of the agenda throughout. I know there remains disappointment about the lack of a locally based aircraft, but it was good to see that the new EC-145 helicopter should have the capability of addressing some of the other concerns constituents have.
“The new aircraft is larger and therefore will allow patients to be accompanied. This has been a serious problem, particularly in cases involving the young or elderly. The ability of a parent or family member to accompany patients in future will be a big relief and also potentially help the paramedic team on board.
“Being faster and able to go longer before refuelling is also a big advantage with the EC-145, as is the ability of pilots to operate at night time. This should ensure that response times are quicker and that emergencies can be dealt with more effectively around the clock.
“People in Orkney, particularly those living in the smaller islands, will want reassurance that these improvements can be delivered. That is why I am pleased that SAS have agreed to my suggestion that the new EC-145 and its crew visit a number of the communities most directly affected in Orkney. I hope there will be a good turnout on 4 July and that people will take the opportunity to ask some of the many questions I know they will have.”