The SCAA Story

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are SCAA based?

SCAA is based at Perth Airport, due to its central location.  From this base, we can reach 90% of Scotland’s population within 25 minutes.

Why doesn’t SCAA receive any government funding?

Quite simply, there is no additional fund available.  The Scottish Air Ambulance Service (SAAS) is funded by the government.  SCAA was formed to increase the capacity and resilience of our national response to time-critical medical emergencies across the country.  It’s a daily challenge for our emergency services to cope.  SCAA is now a seamlessly integrated and indispensable part of our emergency services. In 2016 the Scottish Air Ambulance Service responded to over 3,500 requests for an air ambulance with SCAA responding to 359 requests making it the most utilised air ambulance for Helicopter Emergency Medical Services.  So we should be very proud of our excellent state funded service, but equally proud of our community funded emergency service – the People’s Helicopter, SCAA.

How many air ambulances are there in the UK?

There are currently 20 air ambulance charities in the UK, operating a total of 38 aircraft.  There is only one charity air ambulance in Scotland – SCAA. 

Why does SCAA operate a Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV)?

The RRV is used for emergencies within close proximity to our base at Perth Airport.  Sometimes travelling by car is the quicker option to get our paramedics to the scene.  If, for any reason we have a day when the helicopter is offline due to maintenance or poor weather, the RRV gives us the capability to still provide a life-saving service.

How many hours a day do SCAA operate?

We are operate 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 

How much does it cost to operate SCAA?

An average life-saving mission costs £2,000.  We need to raise £2.5 million a year.

Do SCAA own the helicopter?

No, we lease the helicopter from Babcock MSC Ltd (formerly Bond Air Services).  This agreement includes pilots, maintenance and a replacement helicopter when ours is undergoing maintenance.

How long can the aircraft fly before needing to re-fuel?

Approximately 90 minutes.  As we are a national charity, covering a large area.  There are many locations for re-fuelling whilst out on a life-saving mission, including Dundee, Edinburgh, Oban and Prestwick.

How fast does the helicopter fly?

On average, we fly at 130mph, with a top speed of 150mph.  We usually cruise at 1500-2000 ft. above ground level.

How many people can the helicopter carry?

This is dependent upon the weight of individuals.  However, there is space for 1 pilot, 2 paramedics, 1 patient and 1 patient escort or consultant doctor.

What type of incidents do SCAA get called to?

We get called to a wide variety of trauma and medical emergencies. In 2016/17 –

  • 46% of call outs were to trauma incidents including RTCs, equestrian injuries, agricultural, industrial and sporting injuries, falls and impact injuries. 
  • 24% were to cardiac patients including heart attacks and heart failure. 
  • 17% were to medical emergencies including breathing difficulties, sepsis, organ failure, diabetes and convulsions. 
  • 9% of call outs were to airlift seriously ill patients from remote and rural medical hubs to centralised specialist hospital care. 
  • 4% of call outs were to patients who had suffered a stroke and required urgent medical assistance. 

Where does SCAA operate?

SCAA covers the largest charity air ambulance operational area in the UK – around 30,000 square miles.  We serve the population of Scotland, which currently equates to over 5 million people. 

How long does it take for SCAA to be airborne after receiving a call out?

Approximately 5 minutes.

How can I help SCAA?

There are many ways you can help, from making a donation to volunteering.  For further information click here or call us on 0300 123 1111.