11-06-2012 : SAS Should Consider Orkney Base for Air Ambulance
Responding to the announcement by the Scottish Ambulance Service that Gama Aviation has been awarded the new contract to provide air ambulance services from 2013, Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said:
“I congratulate Gama Aviation on winning the new contract and look forward to seeing how the new helicopters operate in practice.
“There have been problems with the present EC-135 helicopters being unable to fly in certain weather conditions, and I certainly hope that the upgraded EC145 model will prove more resilient in this respect. This is something on which I will be seeking assurances from SAS and the Health Secretary.
“However, I remain concerned that under the new contract both helicopters and the two King Air fixed-wing aircraft are set to be based south. Despite the recent agreement with Loganair to provide some back-up cover in the islands, there is still a risk that responses to emergency medical cases could be subject to delays. This is particularly likely in some of the smaller islands.
“There does seem to be a case for looking at whether the Inverness helicopter or King Air based in Aberdeen could be relocated to Kirkwall. Given the area either aircraft needs to cover, such an arrangement could improve response times, not simply for people living in Orkney but across the north and west Highlands and, of course, the Western Isles.
“This is a matter I also intend to raise with SAS and Nicola Sturgeon.
“The dedication and skill of the air ambulance crews are remarkable, providing a genuine lifeline to my constituents and people across the region. Improvements to the helicopters being used will also deliver benefits. However, where the SAS’ assets are based does matter, and I believe the service can be improved further by locating one of the fixed-wing aircraft in Orkney”.