Bond Air Services has been awarded a multi-million dollar contract to provide Scotland’s first and only charity-funded helicopter air ambulance.
The recently-launched Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) announced yesterday that Bond has been selected to supply the new frontline life-saving resource for an initial seven-year period, following a rigorous and extensive tendering process.
The launch of a Perth Airport-based charity air ambulance in Scotland to work alongside the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) will see the country’s helicopter emergency medical response capability increased by 50 percent. There are currently two Government-funded helicopters operated by SAS based at Glasgow and Inverness.
SCAA plans to launch with a Bo 105 CBS twin-engine helicopter, initially operating an average of 10 hours a day, seven days a week.
SCAA chairman John Bullough said that Bond, who currently has the contract for the country’s two state-funded helicopter air ambulances, was “the perfect fit” for the charity.
“The [Bo] 105 helicopter has operated in many roles across Scotland for decades,” he said, “and it enjoys an excellent safety record.
“Bond Air Services was invited to tender along with four other aviation providers and proved the most suitable for our specific purpose and role. They also have an excellent safety and availability record which means our life-saving charity can provide the very best and most reliable service possible to the public across Scotland.”
Bond Air Services’ managing director Chris Greenhill said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this new contract and we believe our experience in delivering air ambulance operations in Scotland and around the UK will form a firm foundation upon which to build this new and exciting service. We look forward to working hand in hand with the charity and the Scottish Ambulance Service to deliver an excellent service that will grow and develop as it compliments and extends air ambulance operations to the people of Scotland.”
The Bond announcement coincides with the selection and training of a five-strong paramedic team to crew the charity helicopter. Recruited from land ambulance crews across Scotland, the five have a combined service of 50 years with the Scottish Ambulance Service.
This week Bond flew a Bo 105 helicopter to Scotland to help with aviation specific training for the new air ambulance recruits at Perth Airport.
Bond Training Services Manager Andy Mottram explained that the men would undergo three weeks of intensive helicopter familiarization training covering emergency procedures, flight protocols, patient handling, meteorology, navigation and flight dynamics. “The five staff recruited for SCAA are top-line paramedics and they show all the aptitude, enthusiasm and ability to make first class air ambulance crew,” he said. “The helicopter is a completely different environment for them but they all seem comfortable with it and are settling into training perfectly.”
The air ambulance paramedics will sit both a written exam and a simulated helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) practical test at the end of their training.
SCAA Chairman John Bullough added that the award of the Bond contract and the arrival of the helicopter to start paramedic training had signalled the start of the close co-operation between SCAA, the Scottish Ambulance Service and Bond in delivering a world class air ambulance service this spring.
Around $2.36 million (1.5 million GBP) is needed annually to fund the charity and Bullough urged trusts, businesses and the Scottish public to get behind the national resource.
“SCAA can’t fly without funding and that will be down to each and every one of us in Scotland to get behind the charity and ensure that whenever and wherever tragedy strikes, we have the best possible chance of getting fast, efficient, life-saving resources to the scene.
“The public might need our help tomorrow but we need their help today.”
Bond Air Services Press Release